Runners-up Sweden beat Netherlands to qualify
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Sweden 3-2 Netherlands
Sweden ensured qualification as best runners-up and in doing so denied the Netherlands a perfect campaign as Group E winners.
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Sweden have qualified for UEFA EURO 2012 as best runners-up and in doing so denied the Netherlands a perfect campaign as Group E winners.
Sweden, knowing a win would ensure their finals place despite not being able to catch their visitors at the summit, led early through Kim Källström before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar levelled swiftly with his tournament-leading 12th goal. Five minutes after the restart, Dirk Kuyt put the Netherlands ahead, but Sebastian Larsson and Ola Toivonen turned the game in Sweden's favour almost instantly to ensure they will join the 1988 champions in the 2 December finals draw.
Expectations were high among the sell-out Råsundastadion crowd and Källström brought early cheer thanks to a superbly struck free-kick on 14 minutes, the Olympique Lyonnais midfielder curling the ball past Michel Vorm after Johan Elmander had been fouled just outside the area. Buoyed by nine wins from their nine previous qualifiers, the Netherlands promptly redoubled their efforts and they drew level when left-back Erik Pieters found space to send in a deep cross, which Huntelaar rose highest to head in.
The scoreline remained the same until a frenetic four-minute spell after the interval, started by Kuyt nodding beyond Andreas Isaksson after the Sweden No1 had parried Robin van Persie's initial effort. Unperturbed, Sweden delivered an immediate response, Larsson burying a low penalty awarded for Joris Mathijsen's handball. Toivonen then put the hosts back in front a minute later, the PSV Eindhoven forward powering in the winner as the Oranje defence failed to deal with Elmander's marauding run.
Another Netherlands-based Swede, AZ Alkmaar's Rasmus Elm, nearly made it 4-2 with four minutes remaining, but Vorm was equal to his audacious lob. The attempt brought gasps of appreciation from the Råsundastadion faithful, and they were soon back on their feet to celebrate qualification at the final whistle.