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  Results & Reviews: Match 06


Sweden takes Bulgaria to task 5-0 on pair of Larsson goals

Sweden entered its opening Euro 2004 match careful not to underestimate their Bulgaria opponents. 

It paid off: they left with a stunning 5-0 victory, only their third ever in a European Championship final, and their best result at a major championship in 56 years, as two beautiful strikes from Henrik Larsson and further goals from Fredrik Ljungberg, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Allback propeled them past Bulgaria on Monday night.

Larsson marked his first competitive game out of retirement with two mastercalss goals in 71 seconds to lead the Swedes to their best European Championship match in history, and their loftiest score in a championship since defeating Korea at the 1948 Olympics 12-0.

"This is good victory," Larsson said. "We are pleased with the result. It was an important win but it's only the beginning."

Larsson, who quit the national side after the 2002 World Cup, was persuaded to come back for the Euros and struck in the 57th and 58th minutes at the Jose Alvalade Stadium after Fredrik Ljungberg had given his team a first half lead.
« Summary »

Group C 14 June 2004 1945 CET

José Alvalade, Lisbon Attendance 52,000


Ljungberg 32
Larsson 57,58
Ibrahimovic 78 pen
Allback 91

Sweden (4-4-2) Isaksson; Lucic (Wilhelmsson 41), Mellberg (c), Jakobsson, Edman; Nilsson, Linderoth, Svensson (Kallstrom 77), Ljungberg; Ibrahimovic (Allback 81), Larsson.
Bulgaria (4-4-1-1) Zdravkov; Ivanov, Pazhin, Kirilov, Petkov; Peev, Hristov, S.Petrov (c), M.Petrov (Lazarov 84); Jankovic (Dimitrov 62); Berbatov (Manchev 76).
Referee Mike Riley (ENG)

"It is easy to be a coach if you have someone like Larsson," Sweden's coach Lars Lagerback said.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic added the fourth from the penalty spot 12 minutes from the end and Marcus Allback netted the fifth in the final minute.

Larsson's first was a full length diving header and the second a first time leftfooted drive into the roof of the net as the Swedes unhinged the Bulgarian defense with crosses from both flanks.

The striker, who also played in the 1994 World Cup, is now looking for a new club after leaving Glasgow Celtic after seven seasons and had said he wants to play in Spain.

In Portugal though, Larsson is only concentrating on getting Sweden through.

"I will enjoy this tonight, but as of tomorrow it is the next game that counts," Larsson said after being named man of the match. Sweden meets Italy in Porto on Friday.

The result was tough on the Bulgarians who were close to leveling the score before Larsson's double strike effectively put the game out of reach. After Italy and Denmark tied 0-0 earlier in the day at Guimaraes, this result puts the Swedes well clear at the top as the only winner.

Bulgaria created the first chance in the 15th minute when Martin Petrov burst free down the left and crossed deep into the Swedish area. Zoran Jankovich met it first time but his shot flew diagonally across goal. Although the shot went wide, Dimitar Berbatov wasn't far away from turning it home.

Two Bulgarians, Rossen Kirilov and Jankovich went into the book of English referee Mike Riley in the space of a minute for fouls on Arsenal midfielder Ljungberg.

In an end-to-end game, the Bulgarians went close again in the 26th minute when Berbatov climbed above two Swedish defenders and powered in a header that Swedish goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson acrobatically tipped over the bar.

But the first goal came at the other end when Ibrahimovic beat the Bulgarian offside trap just a few meters in their half and ran 30 meters before squaring the ball for Ljungberg to tap into an empty net with the 'keeper pulled out of position.

Bulgaria should have leveled in the third minute of the second half when Martin Petrov got past Nilsson on the left and crossed for Jankovich who had a clear sight of goal but headed wide of the far post.

A minute later Ljungberg almost sent the Swedes further ahead when Ibrahimovic put him through the middle with a deft backheeled pass but 'keeper Zdravko Zdravkov was quick off his line to make a blocking save.

Martin Petrov was causing frequent problems to the right side of the Swedish defense and, after the Bulgarians took a quick free kick, he fired an angled 20 shot that shaved the far post.

But the Swedes responded with those two Larsson goals in two minutes to go 3-0 ahead.

Ljungberg put Edman away down the left and when the fullback curled in a well-flighted cross, Larsson dived to head powerfully inside the far post.

The Swedish fans were still celebrating when he struck little more than a minute later.

Christian Wilhelmsson pushed the ball down the right to Tobias Linderoth who flighted a cross towards the far post. Larsson was waiting again and slid in to scoop the ball into the roof of the net from a tough angle.

Sweden completed the second half rout when Ljungberg went down under a challenge by Vladimir Ivanov on the edge of the area and Ibrahimovic slotted home the spot kick and then Allback got free of the offside trap to score the fifth.
- AP



 « Group Standings »

Group C

P W D L F A Pt
Sweden 1 1 0 0 5 0 3
Italy 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Denmark 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Bulgaria 1 0 0 1 0 5 0


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 « Match Stats »

5 Goals 0
1 Halftime 0
5 Corners 3
5 Offsides 1
21 Fouls 19
2 Yellow cards 4
0 Red cards 0
20 Free kicks 26
11 Shots on target 3
4 Shots off target 8
- Woodwork -
3 Saves 3
0 GL Clearances 0
43% Possession 57%



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