Pride and joy were the overriding emotions in the Sweden camp after victory against the Netherlands earned Erik Hamrén's side a UEFA EURO 2012 finals berth as best runners-up.
Sweden were secure in second place in Group E prior to kick-off on Tuesday but knew that they could avoid the uncertainty of a two-legged play-off next month with victory against the Dutch, already assured of top spot. They did just that, coming from 2-1 down – having led 1-0 – to triumph. Ola Toivonen was the match winner, though Mikael Lustig, whose throw-in started the move, had thanks for an unexpected figure.
"I got the ball really quickly from the ballboy," said Lustig, a member of the Sweden squad that reached the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals. "That kid should take some of the credit for the goal. This is the best thing that's happened to me. To help your country to qualify for a final tournament, it's fantastic."
Anders Svensson, meanwhile, who won his 121st cap against the 2010 FIFA World Cup runners-up, had just as much reason to celebrate despite having a 12-year international career behind him. "I'm getting on in years, but without a doubt it's one of my best wins," he said.
"We were nearly written off for a while and then came back to face one of the best teams in the world in a deciding match. We really battled for 90 minutes and it turned into the classic we'd hoped for. I mean, five goals and we win 3-2."
For Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk, it was a rare defeat. His team had won all nine previous qualifiers en route to Poland and Ukraine, having also reached South Africa last year with an unblemished record. "The possession was 71-29 in our favour and we're playing away from home," he said. "But we can't concentrate for only 88 minutes. Those two minutes [early in the second half] cost us the game. Out of ten games like this one we would win eight or nine."
Van Marwijk's opposite number, Hamrén, was left to bask in the glow of a glorious night for his team."Enormous joy and enormous pride," he said. "It was a fantastic team effort."
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