|Republic of Ireland||Czech Republic|
Sebastian Larsson came off the bench to hit two second-half goals and earn Sweden a convincing friendly win against fellow UEFA EURO 2012 participants Croatia.
Zlatan Ibrahimović got the ball rolling in Zagreb, converting a 13th-minute penalty to open the scoring, and the Sweden captain was at the centre of his side's slick display. Croatia went into the break level after Jonas Olsson's own goal, but Larsson wasted no time in making his mark after coming on as a half-time substitute. He scored within 60 seconds before giving his side a two-goal cushion with 21 minutes remaining.
Sweden coach Erik Hamrén said before the game that Croatia posed numerous threats, but Slaven Bilić's side failed to hit their stride. Instead, it was Ibrahimović, whose mother is Croatian, who shone at the Stadion Maksimir. Playing slightly deeper than normal, the AC Milan forward slipped in Rasmus Elm, who was sent tumbling by goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. Ibrahimović made no mistake from the spot.
Ivan Rakitić was at the heart of Croatia's best play, but it was a Swede who equalised for the hosts when Olsson headed a Josip Šimunić cross over his own goalkeeper. Teenage striker John Guidetti made his senior debut for Sweden after the break, but it was another of their four half-time substitutes who made the biggest impact. Though it was Larsson who scored, it was Ibrahimović who was again the instigator, finding Samuel Holmén. The midfielder's shot was only parried by Pletikosa into the path of Larsson for a simple finish.
Larsson was again indebted to Ibrahimović for his second, latching on to his skipper's pass and bursting through the home defence to make it 3-1. The star man received a standing ovation from the home crowd after his late substitution, but a bad night for Croatia was made worse when Vedran Ćorluka was forced off through injury.
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