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Saturday, October 9, 1999 Published at 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK


Sport: Football

Super Swedes send England through

Sweden's Henrik Larsson sets England's tongues wagging

Sweden 2-0 Poland

England have qualified for the Euro 2000 play-offs thanks to two second half goals from the Swedes.

Ironically, the first goal was scored by the only man in the Swedish starting line-up never to have played in British football, while the win was sealed by one who plays in Scotland.

Italian league star Kennett Andersson netted the first after 64 minutes, while Celtic's Henrik Larsson made sure after two minutes of injury time.

Andersson has earned his living in the Italian top flight for years, and he showed his class by slotting the ball underneath Polish keeper Adam Matysek.


[ image: Henrik Larsson launches into a Swedish attack]
Henrik Larsson launches into a Swedish attack
Arsenal midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg created the chance, setting up the big striker, with a run and clever through ball to split a stubborn Polish defence.

Until that moment the Poles had looked comfortable in protecting the draw they needed to progress to the knockout stages.

The later stages were nervy for English fans, with the Swedes hanging on for a narrow win as Coventry goalkeeper Magnus Hedman flapped at a cross and struggled to recover.

But Larsson made sure in injury time, breaking away in the visitors' box to slot the ball away, to loud cheers from across the North Sea.

Experience

No less than eight of the Swedish starters had played in England at some stage in their careers, with four current Premiership stars starting the game.


[ image: Kennet Andersson's strike sent Sweden and England into raptures]
Kennet Andersson's strike sent Sweden and England into raptures
But there was little sign of top flight quality from the home side in the first half.

Andersson almost set up Larsson in the 11th minute, and when the Celtic man did get a chance he headed straight at the Polish keeper.

Poland were stubborn in defence, knowing a draw would be enough to book their play-off place.

They showed enough on the break to suggest they might take the lead, and Andrej Juskowiak wasted one good chance after losing his marker less than 10 yards out.

The second half saw former Coventry and Sheffiield Wednesday right back Roland Nilsson come off as Gary Sundgren replaced him due to an injury.

And as the Swedes reshuffled the Poles might have scored straightaway.

A far post cross found Tomasz Hajto unmarked, but he headed over harmlessly to sighs of relief from English spectators.

Poor Swedes until goal

The Swedes certainly did not look like the side which has comfortably won this qualification group.


[ image: Poland's Jacek Zielinski and Tomasz Hajto think what might have been]
Poland's Jacek Zielinski and Tomasz Hajto think what might have been
Their passing freqently went astray in midfield, while on the rare occasions they got the ball forward into a dangerous position, the quality of the final ball was dreadful.

After an hour the Poles almost scored, when Sylwester Czereszewski's cheeky flick went inches wide.

But it was the visitors final chance to take the lead, as Ljungberg's magic opened up the Poles defence through its heart.

The Arsenal midfielder might have gone down for a foul on the edge of the area, but instead he cleverly reversed a pass into an unmarked Andersson.

The striker simply had Matysek to beat, and he coolly slotted the ball underneath the keeper from 12 yards.

Freddie's fine form

Ljungberg was at the heart of all of Sweden's good work.

Johan Mjallby's frierce drive was parried away after a backheeled pass from the Arsenal man.

He set up Andersson for a second a few minutes later, but the striker headed wide.

When Larsson produced an even better cross for the scorer, he chested over with the keeper beaten.

It all set up a nervous finale, and when Hedman failed to punch clear a cross at the end of normal time, English hearts were in mouths as the Poles failed to capitalise.

But the Glasgow-based Larsson delighted English fans, if not his own club supporters north of the border, when he made sure deep into the scheduled three minutes of injury time.

Teams:

Sweden: Hedman, Nilsson, P. Andersson, Bjorklund, Kaamark, Schwarz, Alexandersson, Mjallby, Ljungberg, Larsson, K. Andersson. Subs: Sundgren, A. Andersson, Mild, Svensson, Osmanovski, Petterson, Kihlstedt.

Poland: Matysek, Klos, Waldoch, Siadaczka, Zielinski, Hajto, Swierczewski, Michalski, Juskowiak, Czereszewski, Trzeciak. Subs: Kryszalowicz, Rzask, Nowak, Kallazan, Bak, Wichniarek, Dudak.

Referee: S Kaldma (Estonia)



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