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Sweden see off Montenegro with first-half flurry

Sweden 3-1 Montenegro
Marcus Berg scored the opener and Zlatan Ibrahimović struck twice as the hosts maintained their push thanks to a trio of first-half goals.

Watch Zlatan's Sweden double

Sweden race into a commanding lead with three goals close to the interval
Marcus Berg leads the way with a 38th-minute opener
Zlatan Ibrahimović weighs in with his 55th and 56th international efforts
Dejan Damjanović pulls one back for Montenegro from the penalty spot
Next qualifiers: Russia v Sweden, Montenegro v Liechtenstein (5 September)

Sweden maintained their bid for a UEFA EURO 2016 berth with a comfortable victory against Montenegro, overpowering their visitors thanks to a trio of strikes late in the first half.

Held 1-1 by their opponents in November, Sweden suffered some early scares but took control via Marcus Berg on 37 minutes. Berg's strike partner Zlatan Ibrahimović then took centre stage, rattling in two goals in five minutes to leave the second-placed side in Group G well on course. Dejan Damjanović replied with a penalty after the break, but Montenegro could not muster a comeback.

Sweden won a pair of corners in the opening two minutes, but it was the visitors who attacked with more venom in the early stages. Indeed, right-back Žarko Tomašević went tantalisingly close when he applied a flicked touch to a corner. His finish sailed just wide of Andreas Isaksson's post.

Midway through the first half chances began emerging at both ends. On 29 minutes, Ibrahimović tried his luck with a volley following a sweeping Kim Källström cross, but Montenegro goalkeeper Vukašin Poleksić did well to palm the attempt away.

Sweden were finding their rhythm, however, and they got their first goal eight minutes before the interval. Albin Ekdal's cross from the right was met expertly by Berg, and the forward took advantage of hesitant defending to break the deadlock. The Blågult were not done there either.

Two minutes after the opener, Ibrahimović held off two defenders, made space for his right foot and struck low into the corner. The Sweden captain then added his second – and his 56th for his country overall – before the break. Sebastian Larsson crossed and the Paris Saint-Germain player controlled with his chest and ran free on goal, leaving Poleksić with no chance.

If a 3-0 scoreline at half-time looked more or less safe, the visitors had other plans. Damjanović and Tomašević both tested Isaksson from distance, and the former eventually scored from the spot after Erik Johansson brought down Stefan Mugoša. Isaksson then did well to deny Fatos Bećiraj as Sweden held their rivals at bay.