Sweden beats Netherlands 3-2 to qualify for Euros
Sweden rallied to beat the Netherlands 3-2 on Tuesday to secure
a spot in the European Championship, handing the Dutch their first
defeat in an otherwise spotless qualifying campaign.
The Netherlands had already won Group E after nine straight wins
and are also through to Euro 2012. The Swedes advanced as the best
runner-up in the nine qualifying groups.
Kim Kallstrom, Sebastian Larsson and Ola Toivonen scored for
Sweden while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Dirk Kuyt had a goal each for
The Netherlands dominated possession but lost the game on two
defensive mistakes within minutes after going up 2-1 in the second
”We were the better team but they scored the goals in a few
minutes and we made too many mistakes,” Netherlands coach Bert van
Marwijk said. ”We are concentrated for 88 minutes but the (other)
two minutes cost us this game and that’s a lesson for us.”
The Dutch, who were without injured playmakers Arjen Robben and
Wesley Sneijder, took control of the game from the start but it was
the home side that scored first, when a foul on Johan Elmander set
up a Swedish freekick in the 14th minute, five meters from the
Kallstrom took three short steps and curled the ball over the
wall and into goalkeeper Michel Vorm’s left corner.
The goal energized the Swedish team and the sellout crowd at
Rasunda stadium for about 10 minutes before Huntelaar equalized in
the 23rd, breaking away from the Swedish defense to head in a cross
from Erik Pieters.
Ola Toivonen – replacing suspended captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic –
squandered a chance to put Sweden back in the lead when he shot
high over the bar from close range in the 31st. Robin van Persie
shot wide from the right flank as the Dutch gradually regained
control of the match but struggled to create scoring chances.
Kuyt put the Netherlands in the lead just four minutes after the
break, heading in a rebound from Sweden goalkeeper Andreas
But the Dutch invited Sweden back into the match just a minute
later as Joris Mathijsen handled the ball inside the area, and
Sebastian Larsson calmly converted from the penalty spot.
Swedish fans were still celebrating when Toivonen scored the
winner from a powerful shot in the 53rd after the Dutch defense
failed to clear a low cross from Elmander.
Isaksson made a spectacular foot save on Huntelaar’s header in
the 64th and the Dutch never came close after that despite a
barrage of corner kicks.
Sweden had not won a competitive match against the Netherlands
”This was a fantastic team effort,” Sweden coach Erik Hamren
said. ”I would like to see that we have the ball as much as
Holland but we’re not that good yet.”
Van Marwijk said the Netherlands were so superior they would
have won the match eight times out of 10 if it had been
”I’m sticking with the game we played tonight,” Hamren
Sweden: Andreas Isaksson, Mikael Lustig, Olof Mellberg, Daniel
Majstorovic, Martin Olsson, Anders Svensson, Kim Kallstrom, Rasmus
Elm, Ola Toivonen (Pontus Wernbloom, 75) Sebastian Larsson, Johan
Netherlands: Michel Vorm, Gregory van der Wiel, Jeffrey Bruma,
Joris Mathijsen, Erik Pieters, Robin van Persie, Kevin Strootman
(Luuk de Jong, 81), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Rafael van der Vaart, Dirk
Kuyt (Eljero Elia, 73).