Ibrahimovic treble ignites Swedish charge
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a quickfire hat-trick as Sweden moved to within three points of the Netherlands at the top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group E with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Finland in Solna.
Ibrahimovic scored two goals in three minutes after coming on as a substitute midway through the first half before adding a third eight minutes after half-time after Kim Kallstrom had opened the scoring in spectacular style. Ibrahimovic then picked out Emir Bajrami with a curling pass to score a fifth as Sweden made it nine goals in two games following their 4-1 victory over Moldova last time out.
Johan Elmander and Olof Mellberg both had efforts before the Swedes took the lead in the 11th minute through Kallstrom. Alexei Eremenko fouled Mikael Lustig and Kallstrom hit a left-footed free-kick from way out on the right wing which eluded everyone and went into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal.
Ola Toivonen was then replaced by Ibrahimovic due to injury and moments later Finland had a chance to draw level through Mika Vayrynen but he headed Perparim Hetemaj's cross woefully wide after finding space between two defenders.
Finland were left to rue the miss, though, as the match went beyond them in the space of three minutes. With 31 minutes gone Ibrahimovic received the ball when just onside at the edge of the area and guided the ball into the bottom corner.
Just three minutes later he was the beneficiary of some unselfish play by Sebastian Larsson who pounced on some slack defending just outside the area and ran through on goal before laying the ball off to Ibrahimovic who slotted home.
Ibrahimovic then completed his hat-trick eight minutes after half-time when Kallstrom's right-wing free-kick found him unmarked in the six-yard box and he had the simple task of heading home.
Andreas Isaksson parried Niklas Moisander's right-footed shot as Finland searched for a lifeline, but the Swedes went further ahead when Ibrahimovic picked out Bajrami who got beyond the defence and clipped the ball over the oncoming Anssi Jaakkola.
Christian Wilhelmsson was then thwarted by Jaakkola in injury time as Sweden enjoyed a dismantling of their opponents.