Trailing 4-2 against AC Sparta Praha after the first leg, Malmö FF needed a 2-0 home win to advance to the UEFA Champions League play-offs on Wednesday night. The two crucial goals came either side of half-time courtesy of captain Markus Rosenberg – a true son of the city who first joined the club aged five.
As a junior, one of his 'Himmelsblå' team-mates was another local lad, the one-year older Zlatan Ibrahimović. Rosenberg's career took a little longer to take off, but in 2005 – as reigning Allsvenskan top scorer – he made the move that the current Sweden captain had made four years earlier, from Malmö to AFC Ajax.
Three years in Amsterdam were followed by spells with SV Werder Bremen, Real Racing Club and West Bromwich Albion FC. This winter Rosenberg decided to come full circle, rejoining Malmö.
His return home has been nothing short of a success. MFF top the league table, partly due to the seven goals and ten assists that captain Rosenberg has provided in his 16 games. On Wednesday, Rosenberg proved instrumental in overturning the first-leg deficit from Prague.
After chipping David Bicík from close range, he curled a free-kick past the Czech keeper 20 minutes later. The Malmö hero chose to talk about his side's ability to neutralise the visitors, however. "They didn't create much," said Rosenberg. "We acted like a wall, just like we did in the first half down there."
For the 31-year old, who played UEFA Champions League football for Ajax and Bremen, Wednesday's result meant a lot. "Winning a match like this for this club, of course it's special," he said, adding of his decisive goal: "I was practising that very type of free-kick after yesterday's training. It was good to see it go in."
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