Ibrahimovic, Sweden defeat Serbia
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a second-half penalty to give Sweden a 2-1 win over Serbia on Tuesday in the host’s final tuneup for the European Championship.
Ibrahimovic calmly slotted the ball into the left side of the net in the 52nd minute of a game that Sweden largely controlled but failed to dominate.
Ola Toivonen gave Sweden the lead in the 23rd minute after a blunder by goalkeeper Branimir Aleksic, but Neven Subotic equalized just four minutes later with a header from a corner.
Toivonen was then brought down by Aleksic in the area for the penalty as Sweden asserted more authority in the second half, although the hosts struggled to create dangerous chances despite controlling possession.
The result means Sweden enters Euro 2012 on the back of two victories in warm-up friendlies and – perhaps more importantly – with Ibrahimovic in good scoring form.
The AC Milan striker netted one goal and set one up for Toivonen in a 3-2 win over Iceland last week, and will likely need to carry a large part of the scoring burden for Sweden if the team is to advance from Group D, where it faces co-host Ukraine, France and England.
”We played against a good team today, they made it tough for us,” Ibrahimovic said. ”But we managed to win, and we did it well. Now is when it gets serious.”
Sweden was gifted the opening goal, as Aleksic came out to collect a corner from Rasmus Elm but dropped the ball at the feet of Toivonen, who reacted quickly to slot it into the net with the outside of his boot.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as Subotic beat Sweden defender Andreas Granqvist to a corner at the other end and headed the ball inside the far post, out of reach of goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.
After Ibrahimovic’s penalty, Anders Svensson and Kim Kallstrom both tested Aleksic with good shots but the Swedes never came really close to a third goal.
Isaksson was taken off for Johan Wiland with about 20 minutes to go with a slight thigh problem, but did not appear to be seriously hurt.
Toivonen started up front in place of veteran forward Johan Elmander, who is recovering from a foot injury but hoping to be fit for Sweden’s Euro 2012 opener against Ukraine on Monday.