Sweden Crash Out Of Euro 2008
Well , it wasn’t meant to be. Despite only needing a draw to qualify and confidence amongst sports journalists here that Sweden would beat Russia and advance to a quarter-final meeting with Holland on Saturday night, it was a native Dutchman, Gus Hiddink who led his team to a 2-nil victory over Sweden in Innsbruck.
It was a case of age catching up with the Swedes, (average age around 30,) against the youngest team in the tournament. In truth 2-nil on the night flattered the Swedes, it could have been 4 or 5 .
The goals came in each half, Roman Pavlyuchenko netting the first, Andrei Arshavin the second, Arshavin the returning hero for Russia after missing the first two group games through suspension.
For the Swedish team, who finished third in their four team group, after one win and two defeats, there was disappoinment at not making it past the group stage, and coach Lars Lagerbäck, who’s led Sweden to qualify for five successive World Cup and European tournaments , and is now expected to step down, admitting afterwards that the Swedish old guard will have to make way for the next generation coming through
A new generation is coming through,” said Lagerback.
”We had a number of younger players in this squad, but it’s about picking the best players regardless of their age.
”It’s not about age and experience, but the quality of the players.”
”It’s very sad, we haven’t experienced this since the tournament in 2000 in Belgium and Holland,” he said. ”I have a very bitter feeling about it.”
”In the second half we tried to lift the team higher up the pitch,” he said.
”But unfortunately they scored a second goal and it was more of an uphill struggle.”
”I’m tired and very disappointed,” 36 year old Henrik Larsson said after the match. ”We didn’t have a whole lot of chances. I had one on the crossbar, I can’t remember many more.”
Sweden will now concentrate on qualification for the World Cup in South Africa.