Sweden 2-1 Denmark: Ibrahimovic and Forsberg fire Swedes to first leg lead
Image credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND - AFP

Goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Emil Forsberg had set Sweden up for a comfortable route through to the EURO 2016 finals, though a late response from Nicolai Jørgensen meant they could only come away with a 2-1 win and mean all possibilities are open come Tuesday's return leg.

Emil Forsberg, Jimmy Durmaz and Marcus Berg came into the Swedish starting line-up following a 2-0 win over Moldova in their final group game. They replaced Sebastian Larsson, Erkan Zengin and John Guidetti, respectively. For Denmark, they also made three changes from their last outing against Portugal. There was no place for Daniel Wass, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Michael Krohn-Dehli in the eleven, and that paved the way for William Kvist, Thomas Kahlenberg and Viktor Fischer to start the match.

Entertaining opening

Despite the hostile atmosphere, it was the Danes who began the game brightest. Martin Braithwaite had a powerful shot bravely blocked by Andreas Granqvist, as the ball hurtled towards the net. Sweden didn't earn their lesson and they nearly paid the price; a great ball from Riza Durmisi found Kahlenberg arriving late at the back post, only to se Granqvist make another crucial intervention.

The only effort that the hosts could muster on goal in the opening quarter of an hour was via Durmaz's right foot. The winger found himself in a central position but Daniel Agger, like Granqvist, was able to make a block just in time. That was a pre-cursor to the first major chance of the game, which largely came out of nothing. Oscar Lewicki burst forward down the right and whipped in a great ball to the near post and Berg, who saw his close-range effort brilliantly halted by Kasper Schmeichel's lightning reactions.

Sweden take a late lead into half-time

The two teams continued to trade chances, in what was a thrilling opening to the match. Fischer was teasing the Swedish defence at every opportunity, and they just couldn't make the most of any possible counter attacks. There would be a blow for Erik Hamrén's men, however, as Erik Johansson had to be brought on for the injured Mikael Antonsson.

That injury was very nearly forgotten about immediately, as Sweden created an even better chance to open the scoring. Berg was the man put through on goal once again but he was unable to apply the finish that the pass deserved, blazing past the far post from just eight yards out. Zlatan Ibrahimovic nearly gave the baying fans inside the Friends Arena the breakthrough that they craved, though his effort zipped inches wide of the upright from the edge of the area.

It looked like both sides would go into the break level but Emil Forsberg had other ideas. Just after Niklas Bendtner had passed up an excellent opportunity for Denmark, the troublesome Durmaz back-heeled Michael Lustig down the right and he picked out Forsberg in the box. The RB Leipzig man strode onto the ball and wrapped his foot around it, whipping it into the far corner to give Sweden the lead. Had it not been for Kasper Schmeichel's stunning save from an Ibrahimovic free-kick, it could have been even worse.

Ibrahimovic finally breaks his duck against Sweden's rivals. (Image credit: UEFA)
Caption

Swedes double their lead

No sooner were the Danes out on the pitch for the second half until they were two-nil down and completely shell-shocked. Kahlenberg was tasked with forcing Forsberg away from goal, yet only succeeded in clipping his ankles and bringing him down inside the penalty area. Ibrahimovic stepped up and blasted the ball into the bottom corner; Schmeichel went the right way but was powerless to prevent him from scoring his first goal against Denmark.

The Paris-Saint Germain striker thought he had a second soon after, only to see the offside flag raised as he wheeled away in celebration after slotting home. By this stage, Denmark had brought on Højbjerg for Fischer in a bid to strength the fading midfield presence. Nicolai Jørgensen also replaced Kahlenberg, as the visitors tried to limit the damage done in the first leg.

Sweden were still dominant but, like the game, they had lost its edge. A few chances came and went, but Sweden would be made to pay for letting those slip. Jørgensen managed to combine with Yussuf Poulsen, another substitute, and poked in his header at the back post to breathe new life into the tie. They pushed on to the very end, but just couldn't get a second. That late effort, however, will give them renewed confidence ahead of the game on Tuesday.

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