A controlled and disciplined performance gave Sweden an important win against Hungary at the Ferénc Puskas stadium in Budapest in UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 4.
Two Marcus Allbäck goals gave Sweden their first victory in their third qualifying game, and moved Tommy Söderberg and Lars Lagerbäcks's side level with their opponents on five points.
In a tight opening to the game, neither side were able to create a clear chance in the first 20 minutes, with both teams seeking to play long balls over the top of the opposing defence with little success. Henrik Larsson, who reversed his decision to retire from international football to play in the game, curled a 35-metre free-kick just wide before Anders Svensson tested Gábor Kiraly with another free-kick from similar range.
Kenesei goes close
However, urged on by a noisy 28,000 capacity crowd, Hungary came back into the game, and came close to taking the lead on the half-hour mark. Krisztián Kenesei's free-kick curled away from Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson, but hit the right-hand post and bounced agonisingly along the line and away to safety.
Allbäck on the spot
Buoyed by that escape, Sweden opened the scoring five minutes later, as Erik Edman's right-wing corner was met by a powerful header from Olof Mellberg, which Kiraly blocked. However, the rebound fell to Allbäck, who made no mistake with a low shot.
The goal seemed to temporarily unnerve Hungary, although Attila Tököli, who was their liveliest player in the opening period, beat Michael Svensson and rounded Isaksson but lost control as he was forced wide and the chance was gone.
Hungary began the second half strongly, and pressed the away side back in the opening ten minutes although they were again unable to find a way through. Allbäck nearly made them pay again after 56 minutes, bursting clear on to Anders Svensson's pass and steering his shot past Kiraly, only to see the ball hit the post and rebound back into the arms of the grateful goalkeeper.
The chance led to a period of end-to-end football, before Hungary drew level after 65 minutes, as a high ball fell to Krisztián Lisztes, and his low, first-time shot from 30 metres beat Isaksson and nestled in the corner of the net.
The goal sparked jubilant scenes, but the celebrations were cut short barely a minute later as Larsson's flick set Allbäck clear again, and the striker kept his composure to beat Kiraly with a tidy finish to restore his side's lead.
Hungary refused to give up, however, and Zsolt Löw forced Isaksson into a spectacular tip over the crossbar, but Sweden held firm in the closing stages and never looked like letting their slender advantage slip.