Sweden have left Euro2012 with their heads held high courtesy of a 2-0 victory over France in Kiev tonight.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a stunning goal in the 54th minute whilst Seb Larsson added a second in stoppage time to give Erik Hamren’s men their only points of the tournament whilst denying France the chance to win Group D as England swept to the top via their 1-0 triumph over Ukraine.
Laurent Blanc’s Les Bleus, who were beaten for the first time in 24 matches, will next meet reigning European champions Spain in the quarter-final in Donetsk on Saturday.
France appeared in control for most of the first half although their fluency was non-evident as the Swedes lifted their output in the second term to come away with a well-deserved win.
Not a lot had happened in the opening 45 minutes but things changed dramatically early in the second half when Sweden took the lead in sensational style. A ball was floated in by Larsson from the right with Ibrahimovic producing a brilliant acrobatic side volley which rocketed past Hugo Lloris to ignite the Swedish fans.
France stuttered their way through the second half as they strived for an equalizer but they only fell further behind when Sweden scored a second in injury time. Substitute Christian Wilhelmsson broke down the right before playing a ball to an unmarked Samuel Holmen who hit a bouncing shot onto the crossbar with the deflection falling for Larsson who hammered it into the roof of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.
Moments later, Ola Toivonen had the best chance of the first half when he got rid of Philippe Mexes, who will miss the quarter-final because of two yellow cards, in an aerial challenge but his touch when trying to round Lloris was too heavy and he ended up hitting the upright from a very tight angle.
In the 57th minute, Lloris did well to deny Wilhelmsson from close range after a clever ball from Ibrahimovic before he parried Olof Mellberg’s bouncing effort over the crossbar from the ensuing corner.
Seven minutes later, Samir Nasri flashed just wide with a left-footed effort from outside the box for France who created another good chance in the 82nd minute when substitute Jeremy Menez’s scuffed shot needed saving by Isaksson before fellow sub Olivier Giroud put his unmarked header from a corner wide of the post.
It was a disappointing performance from the French who gave up their hold on top spot and they will now have to improve markedly against Spain if they want to reach the semi-finals.
In the Swedish camp, they will be wondering why they didn’t produce such a showing in the opening two matches as they bow out on the bottom of Group D.
Euro2012 - Group D
Sweden: 2 (Zlatan Ibrahimovic 54’, Sebastian Larsson 90+1’)
Kiev Olympic Stadium, Kiev – 63,010
Yellow cards: SWE - Anders Svensson 70’, Samuel Holmen 80’
FRA - Philippe Mexes 68’