Zlatan Ibrahimovic strikes again as flat Sweden head for Euro 2016 playoffs
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his eighth goal in eight Euro 2016 qualifiers as Sweden beat Moldova 2-0 in Stockholm on Monday (Tuesday NZ time), but his side must content themselves with a playoff spot after Russia beat Montenegro to claim second spot in Group G.
Undefeated group winners Austria thumped Liechtenstein 3-0 to finish on 28 points, eight more than Russia and 10 ahead of the Swedes, who will find out their opponenets when the playoff draw is made in Nyon, Switzerland on Sunday (Monday NZ time).
Making his first competitive start at a half-full Friends Arena, striker John Guidetti struck the woodwork in the fourth minute and it took the Swedes a further 20 to open the scoring.
Captain Ibrahimovic beat the offside trap and latched on to a long ball from Andreas Granqvist before coolly rounding Ilie Cebanu and rolling the ball into an empty net.
He was also involved in Sweden’s second, chasing down another long ball which Cebanu rushed out to meet but could only clear as far as Guidetti, who rolled the ball unselfishly to Erkan Zengin to chip into the top corner.
The crowd were not content with the comfortable win, however, and a late chorus of boos and whistles greeted the flat effort of the Swedes who will have to display considerably more energy if they are to negotiate the playoffs.
Russia booked their place in next summer’s finals with a comfortable 2-0 win at the Otkrytie Arena in Moscow.
Oleg Kuzmin scored his first goal for his country after 33 minutes and they went 2-0 up when Vladimir Rodic sent Dmitry Kombarov tumbling in the penalty area four minutes later and Alexander Kokorin stepped up to take the resulting spot kick as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.