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Ibrahimovic special floors champions Greece
Mitch Phillips | June 11, 2008 02:38 IST
Last Updated: June 11, 2008 03:05 IST
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first international goal for more than two and a half years to send Sweden on the way to a 2-0 Euro 2008 [Images] victory over champions Greece on Tuesday.
The striker, who last found the net for his country in October 2005, combined with partner Henrik Larsson to drive in a superb shot from the edge of the box after 67 minutes to break the deadlock in a dull game.
Petter Hansson scrambled the second goal five minutes later to put Sweden level on points with Spain, who beat Russia [Images] 4-1 in the other Group D game earlier.
Angelos Haristeas, scorer of the goal that won the 2004 title and one of six Greece survivors from that Lisbon final, had an early sight of goal after seven minutes when he cut in past two defenders on the right but scuffed his low shot.
Goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson also beat out an awkward, bouncing shot from Greece captain Angelos Basinas but spent most of his time watching from afar as the holders played possession football in their own half.
Sweden were neat in possession and always looking to release their re-formed strike partnership of Ibrahimovic and Larsson, the 36-year-old out of international retirement for a final swansong.
Both men, however, struggled to shake off the muscular attention of centre backs Traianos Dellas and Sotiris Kyrgiakos, Larsson once becoming the meat in a sandwich when the three climbed for a high ball.
Ibrahimovic stole a yard after 32 minutes to reach a hopeful Fredrik Ljungberg punt but his back-header went over.
The game changed when Larsson laid the ball back into the path of Ibrahimovic, who struck unerringly to end a 14-game goal drought in spectacular style.
Hansson then somehow forced the second over the line after a goalmouth scramble.
"We made decisive mistakes on two occasions," said Greece coach Otto Rehhagel.
"The Swedes pressed a lot. We failed to exert pressure ourselves. We did not have that fighting spirit at the key moments."
Asked about Greece's approach for the next match against Russia on Saturday, he added: "We must show something different, we must."
Complete Coverage: Euro 2008