Haglund hails Swedish achievement

Magnus Haglund said reaching the group stage was "bigger than winning the title" as IF Elfsborg joined fellow Swedes Helsingborgs IF in next week's draw.

Magnus Haglund said reaching the group stage was "bigger than winning the title" as IF Elfsborg joined fellow Swedes Helsingborgs IF in next week's draw.

Swedish successes
Mass celebrations in Helsingborg and Boras greeted results last night as the two clubs overcame the odds to reach the group stage. A 1-0 home defeat against FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti was enough for Elfsborg to proceed on away goals following 2-1 win in Romania in the first leg, while Helsingborgs overcame a 5-3 first leg loss at SC Heerenveen with a 5-1 success in the return fixture.

Personal high
Elfsborg coach Haglund was overwhelmed by his side's achievement, comparing it favourably to their Allsvenskan success in 2006. "For me personally this is bigger than winning the title," he said. "I'm very proud of how we played and we should have scored in the first half when we had a good chance. They didn't have many chances apart from the goal and in the end I think the right team went through."

'Fantastic feeling'
Sweden international Anders Svensson was also pleased with his side's work. "It's a fantastic feeling and despite losing I think we were always in control," he said. "It's always difficult when you're trailing but we didn't let them control the game and that always gives you a big boost. It's probably the biggest event in the history of the club."

'Very proud'
Helsingborg are enduring a difficult season at home where they are eighth in the 12-team Allsvenskan, but they pulled out all the stops against Dutch side Heerenveen to strike out for the group stage. Coach Stuart Baxter said: "I'm very proud of what we've achieved and this will be a big boost. Hopefully we can continue to play well in Europe."

Larsson thrilled
The club's star striker, Swedish legend Henrik Larsson, added: "It was a fantastic display and we finally showed what we are capable of. We were much more compact than we have been previously this season and when we scored the fourth goal it felt as though victory was at hand. I've been a pro for a long time so I know what can happen but at four goals we virtually killed them off."

Swedish survivors
Five Swedish sides entered the first round, but AIK Solna, Hammarby and BK Häcken all bowed out after last night's results. Halmstads BK are the only Swedish side to have competed in the UEFA Cup group stage, losing all four of their games in the 2005/06 competition.

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