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Swedish surge overwhelms Iceland

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

By Stefán Stefansson at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium

[1] Sweden produced a fine display to overwhelm Iceland, scoring four times in the first half to secure a 4-1 victory that left the visitors top of FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 8.

Swedish dominance

[2] Lars Lagerbäck's side followed up their 3-0 defeat of Hungary in Solna on Saturday with another convincing performance, two first-half goals from Henrik Larsson and one each from Marcus Allbäck and Christian Wilhelmsson securing the points. For Iceland, the result continued their disappointing run of form after a goalless draw in Malta at the weekend.

Two changes

[3] Iceland coach Asgeir Sigurvinsson kept faith with most of the side that drew in Ta'Qali, making only two changes with Arnar Thór Vidarsson making way for Petur Marteinsson in defence and Johannes Gudjonsson replacing Thordur Gudjónsson up front. The Swedes, meanwhile, showed only one change from the side that beat Hungary, Johan Mjällby's knee injury allowing Mikael Nilsson another chance in defence.

Decisive spell

[4] Both sides attempted to come to terms with the wet conditions in the early stages but after some early sparring, Sweden moved into gear with two goals on the counterattack in three minutes. First Larsson headed in from a perfect Wilhelmsson cross on 23 minutes, before Icelandic goalkeeper Arni Arason could only parry another Larsson effort and Marcus Allbäck followed up to double the visitors' advantage two minutes later.

Iceland defiant

[5] Despite conceding two goals in such a short space of time, Iceland remained unbowed and Swedish defender Mikael Nilsson was forced to clear Hermann Hreidarsson's firm header off the line in the 28th minute.

Win confirmed

[6] However, gaps remained in the home side's defence, and they fell further behind on 38 minutes. Allbäck picked out Larsson with a pinpoint pass through the Icelandic defence and the FC Barcelona striker slotted past Arason. The win was completed just before the break, Willhelmsson volleying high past the beleaguered goalkeeper after a half-cleared corner.

Visitors coast

[7] Sweden coasted through the second half, withdrawing Larsson and Arsenal FC's Fredrik Ljungberg and sitting deep waiting for any Icelandic mistakes to exploit. However, the hosts kept their composure and got a deserved consolation goal thanks to Chelsea FC's Eidur Gudjohnsen, who drove in from 23 metres five minutes past the hour.

Long breaks

[8] Both sides have long waits until their next World Cup qualifying games, with Sweden travelling to Bulgaria and Iceland to Croatia on 26 March.

Sweden's Fredrik Ljungberg is tackled by Petur Marteinsson