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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK

Swedes knock out Nigeria

Sweden 2-1 Nigeria

Sweden striker Henrik Larsson sent Nigeria crashing out of the World Cup with two goals in a pulsating encounter in Kobe.

Julius Aghahowa had given Nigeria a surprise lead on 27 minutes after a period of sustained Swedish pressure.


But the Swedes restored parity with an excellent goal by Larsson before half-time.

The prolific Celtic striker caused a suspect Nigeria defence all kinds of problems throughout the game and earned his side a second-half penalty which he duly dispatched.

Sweden survived several late scares with John Utaka and Joseph Yobo both going close for Nigeria.

But Larsson's two goals proved enough for a deserved win that puts the Swedes in a strong position to qualify from Group F.


  • 27 mins: Julius Aghahowa gives Nigeria the lead
  • 35 mins: Henrik Larsson equalises for Sweden
  • 37 mins: Johan Mjallby strikes his own post
  • 63 mins: Larsson scores from the penalty spot
  • Sweden signalled their intent to attack from kick-off, launching three raids in quick succession - the pick of which saw Marcus Allback's shot deflected away for a corner.

    Anders Svensson, the catalyst for Sweden's equaliser against England on Sunday after coming on as a substitute, was rewarded with a place in the starting line-up.

    And Svensson's perfect delivery from a corner almost brought about Sweden's opener on 20 minutes.

    Johan Mjallby rose adroitly to make firm contact, only then to see his header cleared off the line by Justice Christopher.

    Mjallby's effort was preceded by a delightful solo run from Fredrik Ljungberg, whose sheer tenacity deserved a goal.

    But it was Nigeria who took the lead - completely against the run of play - seven minutes later.

    The Super Eagles broke quickly and Yobo floated in a beautiful cross which Aghahowa, having eluded the Swedish defence, deftly headed past Magnus Hedman.

    Aghahowa celebrates his goal in style

    The Nigeria striker then launched into a flamboyant celebration - seven back flips and a cartwheel - that earned rapturous applause from the crowd.

    However, Sweden's riposte was swift.

    Ljungberg threaded the perfect ball through to Larsson, whose superb first touch was equalled by his second and bettered by a sweet right-foot finish that ended in the back of the net.

    The two goals opened the game up and Sweden were fortunate not to go behind before the break.

    Nigeria playmaker Jay-Jay Okocha set off on a mazy run only to execute a poor shot.

    " Overall we had more chances so we deserved to win "
    Sweden coach Lars Lagerback

    But Teddy Lucic panicked and struck the loose ball against Mjallby, who deflected it onto the post in a comedy moment.

    It was all Sweden in the second half, helped in part by the absence of Taribo West, who had to leave the pitch for a lengthy spell to have stitches for a head wound.

    A poor clearance by Nigeria goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu paved the way for the Scandanavians' second.

    Larsson stormed into the penalty area where he was cynically brought down and the Celtic striker made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick.

    Despite the late onslaught, and a goalline clearance by Mjallby, Sweden held firm to claim three valuable points and leave England needing at least a point against Argentina to stay in contention.

    Sweden: Hedman, Mellberg, Mjallby, Lucic, Jakobsson, Anders Svensson (Magnus Svensson 84), Linderoth, Alexandersson, Ljungberg, Allback (Andreas Andersson 64), Larsson.
    Subs Not Used: Daniel Andersson, Patrik Andersson, Antonelius, Edman, Farnerud, Ibrahimovic, Isaksson, Jonson, Kihlstedt, Michael Svensson.
    Booked: Mjallby, Alexandersson.
    Goals: Larsson 35, 63 pen.

    Nigeria: Shorunmu, Yobo, Christopher, Okoronkwo, West, Babayaro (Kanu 65), Okocha, Ogbeche (Ikedia 71), Udeze, Aghahowa, Utaka.
    Subs Not Used: Adepoju, Afolabi, Akwuegbu, Ejide, Ejiofor, Enyeama, Lawal, Obiorah, Opabunmi, Sodje.
    Booked: West.
    Goals: Aghahowa 27.

    Attendance: 36,194

    Referee: R Ortube (Bolivia).

      |  Sweden  |  Nigeria | 
    Corners (1st half)  |  6  |  0 | 
    Corners (2nd half)  |  2  |  2 | 
    Fouls committed  |  10  |  13 | 
    Caught offside  |  5  |  3 | 
    Shots on target  |  5  |  4 | 
    Shots off target  |  9  |  16 | 
    Hit woodwork (back into play)  |  0  |  1 | 
    Yellow cards  |  2  |  1 | 
    Red cards  |  0  |  0 | 
    STOPPAGE TIME  |   | 
    First half - 1 mins  |  Second half - 3 mins  | 

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