November 14, 2012 by backofthenetjl
On the opening of Sweden’s brand new Friends Arena and Steven Gerrard’s 100th Cap, England were condemned to a 4-2 defeat against Sweden. Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced an absolute master-class, scoring 4 goals; the pick of the bunch a stunning 35 yard over-head kick.
It was a slow start to the game from both sides, with neither creating an opening in the early stages. In only the 7th minute, debutant Leon Osman registered the first shot on target with a left-footed effort from the edge of the box that was comfortably held by Isaksson after good work from Welbeck.
The surface had only be layed a week ago, so in all truth it was in a poor condition; so England understood that they had to use set-pieces effectively tonight to create any clear-cut chances. In the 14th minute, Gary Cahill got forward and almost diverted Steven Gerrard’s free-kick into the back of the net. He could only manage to slightest of touches and it resulted in a simple save for Sweden shot-stopper Andreas Isaksson.
Then in a rare counter attack the home side made the breakthrough. Martin Olsson bombed down the left and whipped in a dangerous cross into the box, which was eventually poked home by talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic; the scorer of the first goal at the Friends Arena.
But England responded well and started to use the ball better; pushing the Swede’s further back. They were just inches away from an equaliser in the 25th minute, with Tom Cleverley going close. Sterling and Welbeck combined well on the right and Johnson’s cross-cum-shot was nearly tapped in by the united midfielder. Sweden then had a glorious opportunity to double their advantage; Hart and Cahill were involved in a mix-up, leading to a chance for Ranegie, who blazed over the bar.
Suddenly, England made a dramatic turnaround with 2 goals in 3 minutes. Danny Welbeck grabbed the first, getting on the end of Ashley Young’s excellent cross to stab the ball home after Sterling had set Young away down the left/ Then almost immediately Steven Caulker put the three lion’s in-front. Another superb delivery from the man of the moment Steven Gerrard enabled the Spurs defender to slide in at the far post; completing a remarkable few minutes.
HT Sweden 1-2 England
Surpisingly, Roy Hodgson opted to keep the side the same for the start of the second half and they applied heavy pressure; searching for another goal. Leon Osman came close within a third for England; his well struck shot forced Isaksson to produce a smart save at his near post. More chances were being created; this time Gerrard stinging the hands of Isaksson with one of his trademark long range drives which the one-time City keeper palmed away.
Sweden then started to get on top; with Ibrahimovic being the centre-piece of almost every attack they had. The PSG striker had two efforts on goal In quick sucession; the first a strike from a tight angle and the second was a speculative volley that Joe Hart would have been happy to see flash past the post. Nearly straight after, Gerrard attempted a first-time volley from 20-yards out, but it went agonisingly wide.
If anyone was going to score for Sweden it was going to Ibrahimovic and it was that man who grabbed an equaliser in the 77th minute. Anders Svensson clipped a lovely ball over the top which the former Milan man controlled magnificently, before finishing with aplomb passed the helpless Joe Hart. Sweden was now on the front foot and with the way the game was going, you felt England would be content with a draw.
But they would only be able to just about settle for a draw as the headline act completed an exceptional hat-trick with a driven free-kick into the bottom corner. You may of thought Ibrahimovic was finished there, but infact he wasn’t; there was still time for him to produce something truly special in added time. With Joe Hart out of his goal, the Swede scored a simply sensational 30-yard over-head-kick to cap off a memorable opening game at the Friends Arena.
FT Sweden 4-2 England
Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig(Sana), Granqvist(Antonsson), Jonas Olsson, Martin Olsson (Safari), Larsson(Jansson), Elm, Kallstrom(Svensson), Kacaniklic, Ibrahimovic, Ranegie(Wernbloom).
England: Hart, Johnson (Jenkinson), Caulker (Shawcross), Cahill, Baines, Cleverley(Wilshere), Gerrard(Huddlestone), Osman, Young(Sturridge), Sterling(Zaha), Welbeck.
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