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Argentina give Swedes the runaround

Sweden 2 Argentina 3

Published 07/02/2013 | 04:00

Sweden fell to a 3-2 home defeat by Argentina despite managing to keep Lionel Messi scoreless in their friendly in Stockholm.

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Argentina took the lead against Ireland's opponents in next month's World Cup qualifier in the third minute when Mikael Lustig steered Gonzalo Higuain's shot into his own net.

Sweden equalised when Jonas Olsson headed home Kim Kallstrom's corner after 17 minutes, but Sergio Aguero restored Argentina's lead almost immediately with a deft chip.

The South Americans went 3-1 up in the 23rd minute when Higuain was on hand to fire home after Andreas Isaksson could only parry Messi's powerful shot.

Rasmus Elm claimed a late consolation in added time for the Swedes as they fell to their first defeat at the Friends Arena, firing a thundering free-kick into the top corner with what was almost the last kick of the game.

Ireland's other World Cup qualifying rivals Austria were beaten by Wales 2-1 as Gareth Bale transferred his goalscoring form from the Premier League to the international stage. Bale ran on to Joe Allen's pass and steered home the opener in the 21st minute.

Bale then turned provider, crossing for Sam Vokes to head home powerfully in the 52nd.

Marc Janko gave Austria hope of a comeback by scoring in the 75th but Wales held on.

Michael O'Neill is still looking for his first win as Northern Ireland manager after his side was held to a goalless draw in Malta. It is the fifth draw from eight games for O'Neill, while the North remain winless since beating the Faroe Islands in August 2011.

Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew scored the only goal of the game as Scotland got off to a winning start under their new manager Gordon Strachan by beating Estonia.

A brace from Barcelona's Pedro helped Spain beat Uruguay 3-1 in a friendly in Doha.

Irish Independent

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