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Slick Sweden sail through

Published: Thursday 11 September 2003, 0.11CET
Poland 0-2 Sweden Sweden qualify in style by beating one of their chief Group 4 rivals.
Published: Thursday 11 September 2003, 0.11CET

Slick Sweden sail through

Poland 0-2 Sweden Sweden qualify in style by beating one of their chief Group 4 rivals.

Sweden qualified for the 2004 UEFA European Championship finals after recording a splendid 2-0 victory against one of their chief Group 4 rivals, Poland.

Perfect start
Mikael Nilsson and Olof Mellberg scored the goals which sealed Sweden's qualification for their third consecutive major tournament. Lars Lagerbäck and Tommy Söderberg's men needed to win in Chorzow to be sure of qualification after Latvia had beaten Hungary earlier in the day.

Dudek exposed
They got off to the best possible start when Nilsson scored in the third minute. Erik Edman's long free-kick was met by Michael Svensson and his cushioned header evaded Mattias Jonson and fell into the path of the on-rushing Nilsson, who beat Jerzy Dudek.

Polish recovery
The home side, however, recovered from that early setback and twice came close to equalising. Jacek Krzynówek cut inside Teddy Lucic on the left-hand side and forced Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson to make a flying save to his right, before Mariusz Lewandowski shot narrowly wide from the opposite side.

Merciless Mellberg
Pawel Janas's team were left to rue their missed chances when Sweden doubled their lead on 37 minutes. Anders Svensson whipped in a corner and Mellberg rose above Jacek Bak to head in the second. Poland now looked dejected and things got even worse in the 63rd minute when their captain, Tomasz Hajto, was sent off after appearing to elbow Marcus Allbäck.

Wasteful Allbäck
The Poles never gave up, Jacek Krzynówek and lively substitute Grzegorz Rasiak both failing to score from good opportunities. Sweden could also have extended their advantage on a number of occasions in the second half with Allbäck missing three good chances.

'Wonderful game'
Yet two goals proved enough to secure the three points which took Sweden, and their coaches Lagerbäck and Söderberg, to Portugal next summer. Söderberg said: "This was a wonderful game. This is such a great group of players and I think that they showed today that they are at their best on the big occasions.

'Pressure was on'
"We knew that Latvia had won so the pressure was on us to perform, and the players responded magnificently. Now we just have to make sure that we finish the campaign off in the right style with a good performance against Latvia at home."

Latvia still hoping
Latvia are currently second in the group on 13 points, four behind Sweden, but two ahead of Hungary and three ahead of Poland. Latvia travel to Sweden on 11 October, while Hungary play Poland.

Last updated: 11/09/03 10.53CET