You wait six years for an international goal and then three come along at once. This at least is what happened to Sweden striker Mattias Jonson who struck a hat-trick in the 6-0 win at San Marino which strengthens the Scandinavians' position in UEFA EURO 2004 Group 4.
San Marino have never won a qualifying game and it only took Sweden 15 minutes to take the lead in Serravalle on Saturday night. The hosts had actually created a few early chances but it was Sweden who struck first. From a second Kim Källström corner in as many minutes, Brøndby IF striker Jonson rose above the San Marino defenders to head in his first goal for Sweden since 1997 against Latvia.
The travelling supporters expected the floodgates to open after the early goal but Giampaolo Mazza's team held firm, despite constant threats from the Swedish forwards. San Marino did finally succumb to the pressure in the second half, however, and once Marcus Allbäck had put Sweden two up in the 52nd minute, there was never any doubt where the three points would end up.
Four minutes later, Fredrik Ljungberg, who had set up Allbäck for his goal, raced clear and scored his first international goal in four years. Jonson then struck twice more before Allbäck made it six five minutes from time. The win sees Sweden close the gap on Group 4 leaders Latvia to two points with the Scandinavians having a game in hand. San Marino, meanwhile, remain without a point after six matches.
Coach Lars Lagerbäck said after the game that he was delighted with the clear victory. "I'm very satisfied - no one got injured and no one was booked so we can face Poland on Wednesday with our strongest possible lineup," he said.
"It will be a tough game on Wednesday and certainly very different from this one. I can't say if it will be a defensive or offensive game from our side but we cannot fear any one at the moment because we must try to win every match if we want to get to Portugal."
Looking ahead to the home game against fourth-placed Poland, Jonson said he hoped to keep his place in the team. He only played because of an injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic - but now looks certain to fend off the challenge from Andreas Andersson to start in Stockholm. "I hope they will give me the chance again," he said. "It isn't every day you can score a hat-trick in an international but I realise that the game against Poland will be completely different."