Sweden gave their all in an attempt to salvage their UEFA EURO 2000 hopes but Italy, despite resting eight regulars, proved too strong.
Alessandro Del Piero sealed their exit in an absorbing finale set up when man-of-the-match Henrik Larsson cancelled out Luigi Di Biagio's opening strike. Kennet Andersson fired just over but time ran out for Sweden with two minutes left when Del Piero burst through to score with a wonderful drive into the top corner of the net.
Tommy Söderberg's side started positively and almost took a tenth-minute lead when Johan Mjallby headed Fredrik Ljungberg's corner past Francesco Toldo, only for Angelo Di Livio to clear off the line. Italy soon had another let-off as Ljungberg raced clean through before shooting wide with only Toldo to beat. The Azzurri rearguard was wobbling as Patrik Andersson's header from another corner flew over.
Sweden's forthright approach ran the risk of exposure to the counterattack, a threat highlighted by Vincenzo Montella, when he pounced on slack defending to lift his final effort over the bar. Italy lacked urgency but found a breakthrough when Di Biagio brilliantly glanced Del Piero's corner in at the near post.
The Azzurri continued to soak up the pressure and almost conceded when Alessandro Nesta was dispossessed by Larsson; he teed up Yksel Osmanovski, who was denied by Toldo. Another chance slipped by on 70 minutes when Larsson found Kennet Andersson at the far post only for Toldo to block.
Swedish persistence paid off six minutes later when Kennet Andersson threaded a ball through for Larsson and the tireless Celtic FC striker rounded the goalkeeper to clip in a deserved equaliser and set up for a thrilling finish. It was Del Piero, though, who had the final word.
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