Friday 19 January 2018

Swedish fightback dents Ireland's hopes of qualification

Germany 4
Sweden 4

Rasmus Elm scores Sweden's fourth goal to complete an amazing comeback against the Germans
Rasmus Elm scores Sweden's fourth goal to complete an amazing comeback against the Germans

Ireland's hopes of fighting for second place in the group suffered a major blow in Berlin as Joachim Loew's Germany sensationally let slip a four-goal lead against Sweden.

The group leaders looked to be maintaining the ominous form of their 6-1 annihilation of Ireland early on as a quickfire double from veteran striker Miroslav Klose had them two ahead within a quarter of an hour.

Klose's goals were his 66th and 67th in international football, taking him within one strike of the country's all-time leading scorer Gerd Mueller.

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker added a third just before the break before midfielder Mesut Ozil added a fourth on 56 minutes, chesting down a Thomas Mueller cross before firing a wicked shot past goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.

Equaliser

Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic launched the fightback with a brilliant header from a long pass by Kim Kallstrom in the 62nd minute.

Mikael Lustig pulled another goal back before Johan Elmander cut Germany's lead to 4-3 in the 76th minute, hitting in a shot between defender Holger Badstuber's legs. Incredibly, Rasmus Elm then grabbed the equaliser just before the final whistle.

Group leaders Germany now have 10 points from four games while Sweden are second with seven points from three.

Elsewhere in Group C, David Alaba set up two goals for Marc Janko and scored one himself to help Austria to a convincing 4-0 win over Kazakhstan. Martin Harnik completed the scoring to give Austria their first win of the campaign and leave them in fourth place with four points from three games, two behind Ireland in third.

Austria were held 0-0 away by the same opponents on Friday but quickly took control and went ahead when Janko headed home 20-year-old Alaba's cross after 24 minutes.

The second goal was a near replica as Alaba, who plays left-back for Bayern Munich and in midfield for his country, again crossed for Janko to head in after 63rd minutes.

Alaba, recently recovered from a stress fracture, crowned his performance by turning in Marko Arnautivoc's pass eight minutes later and Harnik completed an impressive win in stoppage-time.

Irish Independent

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