Zlatan fires Sweden into World Cup play-offs

Zlatan Ibrahimovic came to his country's rescue to score a late winner against Austria which booked Sweden a World Cup play-off place for next year's finals in Brazil.

Zlatan fires Sweden into World Cup play-offs

The Malmö native struck with just four minutes remaining to net the Swedes three vital points at the Friends Arena. Austria had taken the lead in the first half through Martin Harnik and led at the break.

Sweden equalized early in the second half when Martin Olsson got on the end of an Ibrahimovic cross to score with a diving header.

The hosts began to take control of the game and would have taken the lead but for a series of outstanding saves from Austrian goalkeeper Robert Almer.

With the match looking like it was going to end in a draw, leaving both sides with 17 points, the stage was set for Ibrahimovic.

The Paris Saint Germain striker latched onto a long pass from Kim Källström and finished cooly from close range to send the home fans into ecstasy.

The Swedes will wrap up their campaign on Tuesday against group winners Germany at the Friends Arena in Solna.

German coach Joachim Löw told AFP that his side are eager to make amends for the 4-4 draw in Berlin last October when Sweden fought back from 4-0 down.

“The (German) team has done well and we’re happy to qualify, but we definitely have a score to settle against Sweden,” said Löw.

“I’ll see how the players come out of this match, I might switch things up depending on that, but we want to win in Sweden,” he said.

Sweden take on Germany at 20:45 on Tuesday night.

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Zlatan statue loses nose in latest Malmö vandalism

The statue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Malmö has suffered its latest damage in a string of attacks by vandals.

Zlatan statue loses nose in latest Malmö vandalism
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

During Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday, the nose was sawed off the Zlatan statue and the effigy was also covered in silver paint, media including SVT report.

Since being unveiled in the presence of the world-famous footballer in October, the statue has been damaged on several occasions.

At the end of November, Zlatan announced his investment in rival team Hammarby, angering many fans of his hometown club Malmö FF.

READ ALSO: How Malmö fell out of love with Zlatan Ibrahimovic

December has already seen paint poured over the statue and a foot sawn off, with this weekend’s incident adding to the list of crunching tackles against the Zlatan statue.

Police said on Sunday they would investigate the latest instance of vandalism.

“We have not received any reports but have been informed that damage has been seen by the public. We will go out there and make observations this morning,” Katarina Rusin, a press spokesperson for the police in the southern Sweden region, told SVT.