Sweden beats Moldova 2-1 to go second in group
Sebastian Larsson scored his first international goal as Sweden
beat Moldova 2-1 in a European Championship qualifier to move into
second place in Group E.
Sweden took the lead in the 30th minute through right-back
Mikael Lustig, but the home team lacked attacking impetus – and
also missed a penalty – before Larsson injected fresh life into a
drab second half in the 82nd.
The Birmingham City midfielder drifted into the box for a
corner, picked up a deft flick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and
toe-poked a right-footed shot past Moldova goalkeeper Stanislav
His strike appeared to put Sweden in a comfortable position.
Moldova, however, had proved resilient throughout, and Alexandru
Suvorov frayed Swedish nerves with an expertly executed volley past
Andreas Isaksson in stoppage time.
”It was really nice to get my first goal for the national team,
and it was about time,” said Larsson, who has 29 caps for his
country. ”It was a relief, too. We didn’t play very well today and
it was great to get that second goal.”
Sweden has sought to broaden its attacking repertoire under
coach Erik Hamren, and the home side started in a positive vein,
fizzing the ball around at pace and creating early openings for Kim
Kallstrom and Ibrahimovic.
Moldova, though, has proved difficult to break down in this
qualifying campaign, and the visitors grew in stature as the half
wore on. Suvorov, who scored from a free kick in his team’s win
against Finland, twice had chances to repeat that feat but had one
shot saved by Isaksson before his second attempt sailed high over
Just when Moldova seemed to have gained a foothold, Sweden
struck the opening blow after Lustig latched onto a perfectly
weighted pass from Kallstrom. Cutting in from the right wing to
shoot from a seemingly impossible angle, the 24-year-old defender
guided the ball into the bottom right corner with the aid of a
deflection from defender Igor Armas.
That settled the home team, and Sweden looked set to double its
lead before half time when Ibrahimovic was hacked down in the
penalty box by Petru Racu, but the captain’s weak penalty kick was
easily saved in the 43rd by Namasco.
Ibrahimovic almost atoned for that miss in the 61st when he cut
inside from the left and fired off a low shot, but again Namasco
got down well to save.
”They were a good, compact team,” said Ibrahimovic. ”But
considering how we started, we should have scored more goals
The second half was largely bereft of meaningful action until
Larsson popped up to open his international account, and Suvorov
showed that Moldova is not a team to be taken lightly.
Sweden now has nine points from its four matches in a group
dominated by the Netherlands, which leads with 15 points from five
Hungary is level on points with Sweden but has played one game
more. Moldova is fourth on six points, ahead of Finland and San
Sweden: Andreas Isaksson, Mikael Lustig, Andreas Granqvist,
Mikael Antonsson, Oscar Wendt, Pontus Wernbloom (Rasmus Elm, 65),
Kim Kallstrom, Sebastian Larsson, Johan Elmander (Alexander Gerndt,
89), Emir Bajrami (Martin Olsson, 73), Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Moldova: Stanislav Namasco, Petru Racu, Victor Golovatenco, Igor
Armas, Vadim Bolohan, Alexandru Suvorov, Alexandru Gatcan (Valeriu
Andronic, 83), Eugeniu Cebotaru, Vadim Boret, Viorel Frunza (Igor
Bugaev, 46), Anatolie Doros (Anatoli Cheptine, 72).