Zlatan Ibrahimovic revelled
again in a playmaking role to help Sweden beat Iceland 3-2 in a
Euro 2012 warm-up in Gothenburg on Wednesday.
While coach Erik Hamren will be concerned about conceding
two soft goals, he could not fail to be impressed by AC Milan
Having orchestrated a 3-1 win against Croatia in February,
Ibrahimovic was deployed in a free role again against Iceland
and volleyed the opener from the edge of the box after two
With Markus Rosenberg given the task of pulling the
Icelandic defence apart with his running, Ibrahimovic was free
to roam the length and breadth of the pitch in order to exert
His economic use of the ball, flicking first-touch passes
off either foot, encouraged the home side to a style of play
more Spanish "tiki-taka" than Scandinavian pragmatism.
In the 14th minute he created Sweden's second goal, chasing
down a loose ball before bamboozling a defender and crossing for
Ola Toivonen to tap home from close range.
Two goals to the good early on, Sweden looked like they were
preparing for a rout but the coach in the away team's dugout had
a point to prove.
Iceland coach Lars Lagerback, a Swede, guided Sweden to the
finals of five successive tournaments but his careful,
conservative style never really won over Swedish fans, and his
relationship with the media was frosty at best.
Lagerback's influence was clear to see, however, with
Iceland's diligence getting them back in the game when Kolbeinn
Sigthorsson beat Olof Mellberg to reduce the deficit just before
the half-hour mark.
Hamren will be disappointed by the ease with which defender
Mellberg was beaten in the air, something that will surely be
noted by England manager Roy Hodgson and striker Andy Carroll
ahead of their Euro 2012 meeting in Kiev on June 15.
The slew of half-time substitutions slowed the game down,
with the exception of Sweden's Pontus Wernbloom, who mixed his
usual quota of tough tackles with some sprayed passes.
It took the introduction of winger Christian Wilhelmsson for
Ibrahimovic on the hour to breathe some life back into what had
become a pedestrian encounter.
Wilhelmsson's sleight of foot on the wing ensured
Ibrahimovic was not missed, and his efforts were rewarded when
he volleyed Sweden's third in the 78th minute.
Sweden then took their foot off the gas and Hallgrimur
Jonasson headed home from a corner with the last touch of the
Sweden will now face Serbia in a final pre-Euro friendly on
June 5 before heading to Kiev, where they will face hosts
Ukraine in their opening game on June 11.
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