Euro 2012: France through but after Swedish lesson
France were given a rude wake-up call by Sweden as they were beaten 2-0 in their final group game and had to rely on England to reach the quarterfinals of the European Championship.
France were given a rude wake-up call by Sweden as they were beaten 2-0 in their final group game and had to rely on England to reach the quarterfinals of the European Championship. (All AFP and AP Images)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one of the best goals of the tournament with an acrobatic volley in the 54th minute. The striker met Sebastian Larsson's cross from the left and put himself nearly sideways in the air before striking the ball perfectly.
Sebastian Larsson added an injury-time goal to give the already eliminated Sweden its first points of the tournament.
"We really wanted to win this game for the fans, their support has been fantastic," Ibrahimovic said. "We wanted to finish this strongly for them."
The Swedes should have gone ahead in the eighth minute as Ola Toivonen was played onside and with only Hugo Lloris to beat. However, although he rounded the goalkeeper he found the angle too tight and his shot hit the post.
Even though he conceded two goals Lloris also made point-blank saves to deny Christian Wilhelmsson and Olof Mellberg.
Samir Nasri gave an injury scare to France when he needed treatment on the field.
Striker Karim Benzema had plenty of attempts but again failed to find the back of the net.
The margin of victory could have been bigger as France were outplayed for much of the game despite only needing a draw to guarantee a spot in the next round and facing a team with nothing to play for but pride.
"You have to be optimistic to think that we can beat Spain, but it's hard right now to imagine that we can. We have to do better on Saturday," France coach Laurent Blanc said. "We wanted to finish top of the group but couldn't manage it, so we have to deal with that."
"It's mixed emotions right now," Sweden coach Erik Hamren said. "We should be happy with the victory and the performance. ... But at the same time there's a sense of sadness in us all because we would have wanted to stick around a bit longer."