Goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sebastian Larsson saw Sweden sign off in style at Euro 2012 beating France who slipped to second in Group D and will now face defending champions Spain in the last eight.
Laurent Blanc’s men were second best for much of the game and as a consequence missed out on top spot in the group and had England to thank after they beat co-hosts in Ukraine in Donetsk for keeping them in the competition. A point was all France needed to progress but they were punished for their no show in Kiev as Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with an acrobatic effort in the 54th before Larsson wrapped up the win at the death to give the Sweden supporters a rousing send off before they head back home.
Erik Hamren’s men were eliminated after losing their first two games and will be wondering why they didn’t play as fluidly and confidently as they did against the French. Their intentions were clear from kick off and just three minutes had elapsed before they carved out the first chance of the game after Martin Olsson whipped a ball in from the left that Ola Toivonen headed over the bar.
Olsson then crossed for Larsson to head over before Toivonen raced clear in the 10th minute and rounded Hugo Lloris but could only hit the post from a tight angle. France looked bereft of ideas in attack and rarely troubled the Swedish defence that must have been thankful after conceding five goals in just two games.
Karim Benzema had the first meaningful opportunity for the French blazing over after being teed up by Franck Ribery before the Bayern Munich winger failed to hit the target himself towards the end of the half. Sweden continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock after the break . Olaf Mellberg, who scored twice against England, thought he’d snatched his third goal of the finals from Larsson’s set up but was denied by the offside flag.
Benzema then sprang clear beating the offside track before cutting inside onto his right foot but could only blast wide of Andreas Isaksson’s left hand post before Alou Diarra brought a routine save out of the keeper. And just as France seemed to be taking control of the game Sweden struck through Ibrahimovic. Larsson drifted a cross into the penalty area that the AC Milan frontman smashed home an unstoppable volley that Lloris had no chance of keeping out.
Mellberg then forced the France captain into superb point-blank save as they responded to going behind but Samir Nasri flashed wide and Yann M’Vila drilled a shot straight at Isaksson. Jeremy Menez then scuffed a simple chance straight at the Sweden goalkeeper and Oliver Giroud headed over for Les Bleus.
Sweden made them pay for their profligacy wrapping up the win during added on time through Larsson’s tap in after Christian Wilhelmsson smacked Andreas Granqvist’s cross against the bar.