Sweden defender Daniel Majstorovic diverted Gareth Barry’s glancing header into his own net on 22 minutes to hand England their first victory over their fellow Euro 2012 qualifiers since 1968.
A match played in front of a 48,876 crowd – the lowest attendance ever
recorded since the rebuilt Wembley opened in 2007 – fell flat as Capello made
eight changes from the side which defeated world champions Spain on Saturday.
However Capello was satisfied with a victory which ensured his team had gone through 2011 unbeaten, and singled out youngsters Jack Rodwell and Kyle Walker – both making their first starts – and Phil Jones for praise.
“It’s important to beat Sweden after 43 years,” Capello said. “But for me it was really important to see (Phil) Jones, (Kyle) Walker, and (Jack) Rodwell play against a team with a really good organisation.
“The answer that I received from their performances was important. I thought these players played really well.”
Sweden coach Erik Hamrén admitted his side had struggled to make an impression against the English defence.
“They are strong players and a strong team,” he said. “They work hard for each other. It’s difficult to create chances against them.”
England had dug out a 1-0 win over Spain with a gritty defensive display and Capello had been looking for more evidence of his side’s attacking nous against the Swedes. But although England largely dominated possession, the match petered out disappointingly in the second half.
England had controlled a one-sided first half and should have led by more than the solitary goal at the break.
The lively Theo Walcott emerged as England’s most consistent attacking threat early on, and a series of one-twos with Bobby Zamora ended with the
Fulham striker – making his first start for England – hitting the side netting.
The opening goal – the 2,000th scored by England in internationals – duly arrived in the 22nd minute.
Stewart Downing and Leighton Baines worked an opening down the left flank
which enabled Downing to curl a teasing cross into the box which was glanced
on by Barry before Majstorovic diverted the ball into his own net.
Sweden’s best attempts of the half came on 33 minutes, when a corner from Rasmus Elm that was curling in was punched to safety by England keeper Joe
From the ensuing set piece former Bolton striker Johan Elmander glanced a header into the side netting.
Everton youngster Rodwell then went close on 37 minutes with a volley that Sebastian Larsson deflected behind.
England should have added to their lead shortly before half-time when Manchester United defender Jones, picked again in the midfield holding role was sent racing clear by a flick from Zamora.
The 19-year-old did everything right as he bore down on the advancing Swedish keeper Andreas Isaksson but his deft flick with the outside of his boot just rolled past the foot of the post.
Two minutes from half-time England wasted another golden chance, Rodwell grazing a post with a header from close range with the goal begging.
The chances continued to come for England immediately after the break, with Baines and Downing combining once again for Zamora whose low shot was blocked
Downing was next to threaten the visitors goal, surging forward from midfield and shooting low only for Isaksson to smother the danger.
That was as close as England got in the second half, and were relieved 12 minutes from time when a mishit cross by Larsson floated goalwards forcing Scott Carson, on for Hart, to parry clear.