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Wales 0-1 Sweden

Bolton striker Johan Elmander fires Sweden ahead just before the break
Bolton striker Johan Elmander fires Sweden ahead just before the break

By David Dulin

Johan Elmander struck a minute before the break as Wales slipped to a friendly defeat by Sweden in Swansea.

The Bolton Wanderers striker was free at the far post to fire home a corner into the top of the net.

Ola Toivonen earlier had a goal harshly ruled out for offside and Tobias Hysen was denied late on by substitute keeper Wayne Hennessey.

Wales captain James Collins had a header cleared off the line while Rob Earnshaw saw a close-range shot saved.

It was not the result manager John Toshack was hoping for as he starts to prepare for the Euro 2012 qualifiers, which begin in September.

His preparations were not helped by the loss of midfield star Aaron Ramsey, who suffered an horrific leg break playing for Arsenal last weekend.

But Toshack also left out influential captain Craig Bellamy sparking speculation over the Manchester City striker's international future in the build-up.

Aston Villa defender Collins was handed the captain's armband instead as Wales looked to clinch their first win in four attempts at the Liberty Stadium.

They started brightly enough creating two chances after 15 minutes.

Gareth Bale was Wales main attacking threat
Tottenham's Gareth Bale was Wales' main attacking threat

The first came through West Ham midfielder Jack Collison who started after passing a late fitness test on a knee injury.

He was picked out on the edge of the box by Ched Evans but his shot was deflected out for a corner.

From the resulting delivery, Collins rose highest and Sweden needed Birmingham's Sebastian Larsson to clear off the line.

While Wales could have taken the lead, Sweden could quite rightly feel aggrieved for not being ahead midway through the first half.

Toivonen was picked out from a right-hand cross to head home from six yards only to see his goal controversially disallowed by an offside flag.

Sweden went close again soon after when Larsson curled a 30-yard free-kick narrowly wide.

But it was Elmander who did the damage on the stroke of half-time.

The Bolton striker first forced a corner with a 25-yard shot which Boaz Myhill parried.

He was then left unmarked at the back and had time to chest down and volley into the top corner to score his 13th goal for Sweden.

Simon Church had an excellent chance to level soon after the restart after substitute Earnshaw's deflected shot fell into his path eight yards out, but the Reading striker saw it late and could not finish.

It was a good response from Wales who started the second half well and the impressive Gareth Bale looked lively down the left.

Bale was on hand again just after the hour finding Earnshaw in the box and the Nottingham Forest striker's shot from a tight angle was parried by Eddie Gustafsson.

Wales huffed and puffed and could not find a way back in, particularly after Bale was substituted, and Sweden almost doubled their lead eight minutes from time.

Collins missed his header to clear Mikael Lustig's cross and Tobias Hysen's half-volley on the edge of the box was saved well by Hennessey.

The Wolves keeper also had to be alert moments later to tip over Rasmus Elm's deflected shot as the Swedes finished stronger.

Wales: Myhill (Hennessey 46), Gunter, Williams, Collins, Morgan, Bale (Nyatanga 67), Collison (Crofts 71), Davies (Cotterill 64), Vaughan, Evans (Earnshaw 46), Church (Vokes 53).
Subs Not Used: Eardley, Dorman, King.

Sweden: Gustafsson, Mellberg, Majstorovic, Safari (Wendt 62), Larsson, Rasmus Elm (Hysen 58), Svensson, Kallstrom (Viktor Elm 80), Elmander (Wernbloom 58), Toivonen, Wilhelmsson (Lustig 73).
Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Olsson, Granqvist.

Goals: Elmander 44.

Att: 8,258

Ref: Alan Black (Northern Ireland).

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see also
No complaints over loss - Toshack
03 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Internationals as they happened
03 Mar 10 |  Football
Wednesday's football photos
03 Mar 10 |  Football
Bellamy 'should not quit Wales'
03 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Collison's warning to young Wales
02 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Toshack casts doubt over Bellamy
01 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Welsh
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Welsh
Pick your Wales XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals

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