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Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Swedes let it slip
Fredrik Ljungberg went close, but Sweden did not
Sweden may have stormed away with their qualifying group and played a huge part in England's qualification, but the shortcomings of both nations appeared at the finals.

Sweden's success in qualification had been built on a solid defence, breached only once - by Alan Shearer.

But preparations for Euro 2000 were not helped by the loss of Pontus Kaamark and key midfielder Stefan Schwarz.

Meeting co-hosts Belgium in the tournament opener was not an ideal start for the Swedes.

Backed by the home support Belgium struck either side of half-time to record a 2-1 victory and Swedish goalkeeper Magnus Hedman believes it was a result they never recovered from.

"It is not only about losing to the Italians, it's how we performed in the three games as a whole and I think it was the Belgium game that did for us," said Hedman.

Coventry's Hedman was a disconsolate figure

"We are a lot better than what we have shown with the exception of the Italy match. But the results speak for themselves and we haven't been good enough to get ourselves through. That is a big, big, major disappointment."

With the defence now looking far less solid than it had in qualification matters weren't helped by problems in attack as well.

An ankle injury limited the effectiveness of Kennet Andersson while Henrik Larsson had to try and play himself back into match fitness after his lengthy lay off due to a broken leg.

A disappointing goalless draw with Turkey left Sweden with it all to do against the impressive Italians. The performance improved but the result did not.

Hedman admitted: "Against Italy we played one of the best games I have been involved in - I would say we played optimally. We just couldn't score."

Larsson did at least find the target in another 2-1 defeat but it was of little consolation to the Celtic man.

"If you go out you don't deserve to go through - end of story. Unfortunately we haven't played as well as we know we can. Obviously we are very disappointed," said the striker.

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See also:

19 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Italy v Sweden clockwatch
19 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Sweden bow out after Italy defeat
19 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Beaten Swedes bemoan misses
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