Sweden's hopes of reaching the play-offs are back in the balance after a surprise 2-1 defeat at home to Israel, who leapt into contention thanks to goals in either half from Bebars Natcho and Idan Vered in Gothenburg.
A point would have taken Sweden through as Group 6 winners, but they must now avoid defeat in Bulgaria on Tuesday to secure their place. Israel started the game six points off the summit with only two games to play, but would now qualify if they beat Montenegro in their final match on Tuesday and Sweden lose.
That scenario appeared highly unlikely as Sweden kicked off looking to preserve their undefeated record in the section. Instead, the visiting side took control and deservedly went ahead on 38 minutes when Natcho fired in from outside the box after being teed up by Liroy Zhairi.
Nineteen minutes into the second half, Vered doubled the lead when he lobbed Kristoffer Nordfeldt in the Swedish goal after receiving a fine through ball from Nir Bitton. Agon Mehmeti's terrific acrobatic volley pulled a goal back for the 2009 semi-finalists with 13 minutes remaining, but Sweden could not force a second and now face a nervy wait before meeting Bulgaria.
"Maybe the players were a bit nervous as for many of them it was their first chance to qualify for a major tournament," Sweden coach Jörgen Lennartsson said. "I hope we can use today's performance as a motivational factor coming into the last group match and that we can get a better result on Tuesday in Bulgaria."
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