Sweden coach Erik Hamren hailed his captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic for leading the fight back as their four unanswered goals sealed a dramatic 4-4 draw with Germany in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.
Berlin: Sweden coach Erik Hamren hailed his captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic for leading the fight back as their four unanswered goals sealed a dramatic 4-4 draw with Germany in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.
Story first published on: Wednesday, 17 October 2012 09:41
Midfielder Rasmus Elm wrote himself into Swedish football folklore with the dramatic right-footed equaliser in the 93rd minute as Sweden came back from 4-0 down with an hour gone to claim a point at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
"(Ibrahimovic) is our captain and our best player, his goal was fantastic, but so was the pass he received," said Hamren after Paris St Germain's Ibrahimovic scored the 62nd-minute header to spark the dramatic come back.
"We needed it to get some energy and he showed the way for the rest of the team.
"When we got some momentum, the players lifted around him and gave him some more support.
"He put in a really good talk in the half-time break and he showed his class to me, he coached the other players as a good captain should do."
Hamren said he learnt a lot about his team when asked if he had wanted to leave the stadium and go home when the fourth German goal went in.
"No, at 4-0 down, I wanted to see what would happen and I am glad I didn't leave," he said.
"I wanted to see the strength and pride in the team, which we had talked about during in the break.
"I wanted to see which players would fight and which players would let their heads go down.
"If you are a loser, you want to go home, if you are a winner, you fight even when you are a long way behind."
Joachim Loew's Germany had been cruising thanks to two early goals from Lazio's Miroslav Klose before Arsenal's Per Mertesacker, then Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil gave the hosts a comfortable lead.
But Hamren's side roared back as Ibrahimovic headed home before Celtic's Mikael Lustig, then Galatasary's Johan Elmander rattled the hosts before Elm produced the shock equaliser.
"At first the Germans did what they want, even after we pulled it back to 4-1, I didn't think we could get something out of the game," admitted Sweden's hero Elm.
"When I got my goal, I was so tired that I just hit the ball with all I had."
Germany remain top of Group C on ten points with Sweden second in the table on seven, but with a game in hand.
This is the first time in the German Football Federation's 104-year history they have surrendered a four goal lead and this was the first time in three years Germany have dropped points in a qualification match.
"To sum things up, the first 60 minutes were brilliant from us, the last 30 were incredibly weak," said Loew.
"Honestly, shortly after the game I can find no explanation as to how we let a 4-0 lead slip out of our hands.
"It's deathly quiet in the changing room: players are laid out on the benches and are totally speechless.
"Had we won the game, we would have been in control of the group, now things are wide open.
"Having outplayed Sweden for 60 minutes, who were virtually invisible, we are very disappointed and we have to learn our lessons from this."
Germany captain Philipp Lahm admitted he was also struggling to explain what went wrong.
"It is very difficult to explain, it is hard to understand how we could be left with a 4-all draw having outplayed our opponents for the first 60 minutes," admitted Lahm.
"At 4-1, you think, well it's only a goal, at 4-2 you get a little worried, but before you know it, it's a 4-4 draw.
"It is unprecedented in international football, maybe only the 3-3 draw between Liverpool and AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final compares.
"We ticked the game off after it was 4-0, that is normal, but we let our concentration slip, made mistakes and lost our shape."