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Page last updated at 20:01 GMT, Wednesday, 11 August 2010 21:01 UK

Sweden 3-0 Scotland

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) celebrates with his Swedish team-mates
Ibrahimovic (left) captained Sweden to victory over Scotland

By Clive Lindsay

Zlatan Ibrahimovic came out of international retirement to inspire Sweden as Craig Levein suffered his first defeat as Scotland coach.

It took the Barcelona striker just three minutes to sweep the ball home from close range as a young defence depleted by injuries was exposed.

Emir Bajrami scored on the rebound six minutes before the break after first being denied by Allan McGregor.

And an Ibrahimovic cross was headed in by Ola Toivonen after 55 minutes.

Only some fine saves from McGregor prevented a heavier defeat for the Scots, with the defensive frailties that blighted previous manager George Burley's reign still glaringly evident.

Levein, forced to do without six of his original squad in his second friendly in charge, had gone for an inexperienced back four, with Garry Kenneth handed his first cap in the heart of the defence alongside Christophe Berra.

Ola Toivonen (left) celebrates Sweden's second goal in Stockholm
Toivonen (left) scored Sweden's second goal in Stockholm

And they were immediately on the back foot as Pontus Wermbloom made a fine run from midfield into the penalty box before playing the ball low for the similarly unmarked Ibrahimovic to side-foot past McGregor from eight yards.

It was a dream return for the striker, who had been made captain by new coach Erik Hamren after being persuaded to end a short spell in international retirement following Sweden's failure to qualify for this summer's World Cup finals.

McGregor, making his return to the Scotland fold after his ban for a late-night drinking session under Burley, prevented further damage with a fine double save.

The goalkeeper could perhaps have done better than parry man-of-the-match Toivonen's drive from the edge of the area but did superbly to block Johan Elmander's close-range attempt to find the net from the rebound.

Scotland's defence survived some more nervous moments before creating their own first chance after 29 minutes as they began to enjoy more possession.

James McFadden's cross was fumbled by Andreas Isaksson, but the goalkeeper recovered to smother from point-blank range Charlie Adam's attempt to flick the ball home.

However, the Swedes were exploiting space behind full-backs Lee Wallace and Kirk Broadfoot, who was left foundering as Bajrami increased the home side's lead after 39 minutes.

The Twente midfielder's first attempt from 12 yards was blocked by McGregor, but the goalkeeper had no chance when Bajrami steered his second attempt into the far corner.

Scotland started to enjoy a bit more territorial possession after the break, but a slack pass gave Olof Mellberg the chance to send a half-volley curling against the top of the crossbar from 25 yards.

Sweden extended their lead after 55 minutes, when Ibrahimovic crossed from the by-line and PSV Eindhoven forward Toivonen rose above Berra to head into the net from 10 yards, the last act by the captain before heading off injured.

Scotland finally forced a save from Isaksson after 66 minutes when substitute Kris Boyd pounced on a fine chip from Darren Fletcher only for his shot on the turn to strike the goalkeeper's shin.

There was still time for McGregor to claw away a close-range effort from the impressive Toivonen as Levein was given much to think about ahead of next month's start to the European Championship qualifying campaign.


Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig (Larsson 45), Mellberg, Majstorovic, Safari, Svensson (Wendt 73), Wernbloom (Kallstrom 45), Elmander (Berg 78), Toivonen, Bajrami (Wilhelmsson 64), Ibrahimovic (Hysen 59).
Subs Not Used: Wiland, Granqvist, Olsson.

Booked: Elmander.

Goals: Ibrahimovic 4, Bajrami 39, Toivonen 56.

Scotland: McGregor, Broadfoot (Whittaker 74), Kenneth, Berra, Wallace, Robson (Iwelumo 78), Darren Fletcher, Thomson (Robertson 54), Adam (Morrison 64), McFadden, Steven Fletcher (Boyd 64).
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Miller, McManus, Turner.

Booked: Broadfoot, Robson.

Att: 25,249

Ref: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)



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see also
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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Edinburgh Evening News Fletch more dangerous in the company of Wolves - 22 hrs ago
SoccerWay.com McGregor recalled to Scotland squad - 25 hrs ago
Yahoo! Canada McGregor recalled to Scotland football squad - 31 hrs ago
Scottish Sun CRAIG LEVEIN has snubbed a plea for Boros stars to miss the game in Sweden - 34 hrs ago
ESPN.co.uk Bad-boy McGregor back in Scotland squad - 37 hrs ago


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