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

Namasco.

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

the bar.

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

earlier.”

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

straight wins.

Hungary is level on points with Sweden but has played one game

more. Moldova is fourth on six points, ahead of Finland and San

Marino.

Lineups:

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).