Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ibrahimovic saves Swedes' blushes after Faroes send out warning

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Ireland's Group C rivals Sweden mounted a second-half comeback to avoid humiliation in the Faroe Islands, with a 75th-minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike securing a 2-1 victory.

The Faroes, who host Ireland on Tuesday, thought they were on the verge of a famous victory when Rogvi Baldvinsson put them ahead in the 57th minute with a low shot past Andreas Isaksson.

However, their joy only lasted for 12 minutes, with Alexander Kacaniklic levelling matters. Ibrahimovic duly popped up with the crucial strike to spare their blushes by flicking Pontus Wernbloom's delicate first-time pass past 'keeper Gunnar Nielsen before firing home.

Sweden have two wins from two in the group.

Giovanni Trapattoni will certainly be pointing to this game as evidence that his Irish side cannot be complacent ahead of their trip to Torshavn.

His view of Ireland's win in Kazakhstan last month was also strengthened by events in Astana last night, with the home side holding Austria to a scoreless draw.

Ireland stole the points from the Kazakhstanis and Trapattoni reasoned that other teams would find it difficult there on a plastic pitch. Austria, who expect to fight it out with Ireland and Sweden for second, now have ground to make up. The two sides meet again on Tuesday, on the same night that Germany host the Swedes.

Pirlo steers off-colour Azzurri past Armenia

Italy veteran Andrea Pirlo scored one goal and created another as the Azzurri laboured to a 3-1 win over Armenia.

Pirlo fired Italy ahead in the 11th minute from the penalty spot following Hrayr Mkoyan's handball. But Armenia levelled in the 28th through Shakhtar Donetsk's impressive Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Daniele de Rossi headed Italy back in front shortly after the hour mark before Pablo Osvaldo sealed the result with his third goal in as many qualifiers.

In Group B, two second-half goals and a late penalty save from Petr Cech allowed Czech Republic to beat Malta 3-1. Theodor Gebre Selassie, Tomas Pekhart and Jan Rezek were on target for the Czechs.

In Group D, Romania came away from Istanbul with a 1-0 over Turkey thanks to a goal from Gheorge Grovaz in first-half injury-time. Iceland saw off Albania 2-1 in Tirana in their Group E clash. In Group G, Lithuania beat Liechenstein 2-0 in Vaduz to avenge their defeat against the same opponents in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport