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EURO 2012 GROUP D: England edge five goal thriller against Sweden

An average first half developed into an exciting second period as England lost then regained the lead to defeat Sweden 3-2 thanks to the introduction of substitute Theo Walcott. The pundits had decided this game between two dour teams would be a scoreless bore and certainly the first half gave no indication of the drama of the second.

Neither side showed much attacking flair in the first 45 minutes and only a moment of brilliance from Steven Gerrard who picked out his Liverpool colleague Andy Carroll with a perfect cross for the former Newcastle hitman to head powerfully home, separated the teams at the break.

But within ten minutes of the restart England were shown as vulnerable at the back as their opponents.

First Carroll gave away a needless free kick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's initial effort was blocked but the Swedish striker hit the ball back which broke kindly for Olof Mellberg to fire past Joe Hart via a couple of deflections.

Nine minutes later, and with Sweden in the ascendancy, the Three Lions defence was found wanting again. This time a free kick found defender Mellberg totally unmarked to head the Swedes in front.

England's record of never beating Sweden in a competitive game looked set to continue until Theo Walcott was introduced from the bench just after the hour mark.

With only his second touch the Arsenal wideman collected a loose ball some 20 yards out and lashed the ball back into the centre of the goal, leaving the Swedish keeper stranded.

The game was now becoming more open with chances at both ends but it was England who got their noses ahead for a second time.

Walcott showed his pace inside the penalty area to cross for Danny Welbeck who flicked the winner with his back to goal.

England then held out for the remaining 13 tense minutes although Gerrard almost sealed the victory but was thwarted by keeper Isaksson.

Roy Hodgson's team now need just a draw against Ukraine in their final group game to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

For Sweden they have now won just two of their last 13 games at European Championship finals, losing their last four.

Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Kyiv

Attendance: 70,000

England scorers: Carroll 23, Walcott 63, Welbeck 77 Sweden scorers: Mellberg 49, 58

Yellow cards: Milner (ENG), Mellberg (SWE), J Olsson (SWE), Svensson (SWE)

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Dave Williams

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