Sweden 1-4 Austria
Austria rubber-stamped their ticket for the finals in France with a clinical display that leaves Sweden down in third in Group G.
Article top media content
- Austria qualify as Group G winners with resounding victory in Sweden
- Swedes fall to third place, two points behind Russia and only one ahead of Montenegro
- Result equals Sweden's biggest competitive home loss
- Next games: Liechtenstein v Sweden, Montenegro v Austria (9 October)
Austria did more than the necessary to reach UEFA EURO 2016. All they required in Solna was one point but Marcel Koller's pacesetters took all three – and left Sweden in a precarious position in qualifying Group G.
David Alaba has a knack of scoring early penalties against Sweden in qualification. He did so when the sides drew 1–1 in Vienna, and he did it again exactly a year later at the Friends Arena after Kim Källström had tripped Zlatko Junuzovic inside the Swedish penalty area. The ninth-minute breakthrough was the cue for Austria both to qualify and to clinch the group.
In a blistering start to the match, Alaba's Panenka-style penalty was nearly equalised only seconds later by Zlatan Ibrahimović. The Sweden captain curled a free-kick towards the top corner but Robert Almer did well to palm it away.
With Sweden dominating but creating few clear chances, Austria shocked the home crowd once more. Austria skipper Christian Fuchs's long throw was nodded on by Marc Janko, and before any Swedish defender could get to the ball, Martin Harnik sneaked in to head in from close range.
At 45 minutes the home team were relieved to hear the whistle, because by then they had had Austria threatening again through Marko Arnautovic and Harnik. The first shot on goal of the second period was also Austrian. However, Alaba fired straight at Andreas Isaksson.
Isaksson's counterpart in the Austrian goal, Almer, had not conceded in 513 minutes prior to this match, and he showed why when he somehow got his hands up to Marcus Berg's fierce drive towards the top corner from close range.
Home coach Erik Hamrén added a third forward, bringing on Isaac Kiese Thelin, yet instead of getting one back Sweden conceded again. Fuchs found Alaba who slid a ball into the Swedish box, where Janko escaped the attentions of Andreas Granqvist to make it 3–0.
As many of the home fans made early exits, Almer once again resisted as a double chance fell to Berg and Emil Forsberg. Behind Almer's goal stood the visiting supporter, singing "Frankreich hier kommen wir" (France, here we come) and they had another goal to celebrate through Harnik.
Zlatan Ibrahimović did pull one back at the very end but it was no consolation to a side now dropping to third in the section, two points behind Russia.