Sweden beats Finland 2-1 for Euro playoff place
Sweden made sure of a playoff spot in Euro 2012 qualifying with a 2-1 win victory over Finland on Friday in pouring rain in Helsinki.
Sebastian Larsson put the visitors ahead in the seventh minute, after latching on to a chipped through ball from Kim Kallstrom. Martin Olsson added a second in the 53rd minute when he swept home the rebound after a shot from Zlatan Ibrahimovic was saved by Lukas Hradecky in the Finland goal.
Joona Toivio pulled a goal back for Finland in the 73rd minute but the hosts could not convert late pressure on the Sweden goal into an equalizer. Finland cannot qualify for the tournament.
Sweden could qualify directly for the finals as the best runner-up depending on other results in Group E, but it is guaranteed second place in the group and a playoff place.
Referee Mark Clattenburg gave out five bookings in a game played in stormy conditions, one to Sweden captain Ibrahimovic, triggering a suspension that rules him out of Tuesday's game against group winner the Netherlands.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren was not worried about facing the Dutch without his captain.
''Of course, I would love to have him playing on Tuesday, but he's not playing so we can't do anything about that,'' Hamren said. ''We have to manage to make a good game without him. We showed against Moldova that we could do that. Of course it is a big difference between Moldova and Holland, but that's life, so we can't say so much about it.''
Hamren was surprised at how well Finland played, while his opposite number, Mixu Paatelainen, was disappointed his team didn't take its chances.
''I thought Finland were the better team today but goals decide matches, who wins and loses and unfortunately we didn't score the chances that we created,'' said Paatelainen. ''I felt that at halftime we should have been in the lead.''
Finland: Lukas Hradecky, Niklas Moisander, Joona Toivio, Mika Vayrynen (Timo Furuholm, 71), Roman Eremenko, Teemu Pukki (Teemu Pukki, 60), Kari Arkivuo, Tim Sparv, Alexander Ring, Kasper Hamalainen, Jukka Raitala.
Sweden: Andreas Isaksson, Mikael Lustig, Olof Mellberg, Daniel Majstrovic, Martin Olsson, Sebastian Larsson (Ole Toivonen, 68), Kim Kallstrom (Emir Bajrami, 87), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Elmander, Christian Wilhelmsson (Anders Svensson, 54), Rasmus Elm.