Jonson ends Scandinavian saga with dramatic leveller

Denmark 2 Sweden 2

As cold, wet Scandinavian weather engulfed northern Portugal, Denmark and Sweden last night contrived the scoreline that Italy knew would send them home.

As cold, wet Scandinavian weather engulfed northern Portugal, Denmark and Sweden last night contrived the scoreline that Italy knew would send them home.

Yet this draw was no fix or stitch-up, even though the Danish goalkeeper, Thomas Sorensen, will be pilloried by Italian conspiracy theorists for parrying Christian Wilhelmsson's cross for Mattias Jonson to volley the fourth goal of an enthralling match with 90 seconds remaining.

Sweden and Denmark therefore advanced to the last eight on the basis of having scored more goals in the three matches between themselves and Italy. The Swedes' second equaliser to two goals by Jon Dahl Tomasson ­ who plies his trade, ironically, as a fringe player with Milan ­ means that they will meet the runners-up of Group D in the quarter-finals.

Denmark, as the side finishing second in Group C, must take on the formidable Czech Republic, which is doubtless why Sorensen cut a disappointed figure before joining his compatriots in their the celebrations.

Morten Olsen, the Denmark coach, reacted tersely when he was asked about the "strange result". "It's ridiculous to suggest that we wanted to draw. Everyone who watched the game saw two teams that wanted to win it."

His irritation appeared genuine. Had they held on at 2-1, the Danes would have played Germany, the Netherlands or possibly Latvia in Faro, where they are based. Instead, they will have to return to Porto to face a team Olsen described as "one of the favourites".

Lars Lagerback, Sweden's co-manager, also defended the game's integrity. "If [Giovanni] Trapattoni watches this match on video, he will know it was a tough fight from both teams. Italy have only themselves to blame ­ if they had beaten either of us, they would have gone through."

The Danish flag which bore the legend "2-2: Bye, Italy" encapsulated the most cynical fears of the Azzurri and their followers. Uefa had numerous permutations to separate the three sides if they all finished level on points and on goal difference in the matches between them, with the possibility that it might even come down to who had the nicest strip or the best hair.

Sweden were the most comfortably placed going into the evening ­ any draw suited them ­ whereas the arithmetic was more difficult for Denmark. Their early ascendancy reaped its reward in the 28th minute. A throw-in by the outstanding Thomas Gravesen was flicked by Ebbe Sand into the path of Tomasson, who chested the ball down and lashed it beyond Andreas Isaksson. Suddenly, Sweden sensed they might be ones to be squeezed out.

Niclas Jensen, who departed with a serious ankle injury, gave way to Kasper Bogelund after the interval. It was the substitute's misfortune that Sweden's first equaliser stemmed from his patch. With just 25 seconds played, he and his co-defenders seemed to lose concentration.

Henrik Larsson pursued the ball and fell under Sorensen's dive, rising to power his penalty down the middle as the Aston Villa goalkeeper dived to his left. Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic started to cause problems with their movement and ability to improvise, a trait which has helped break down the stereotype of the solid but essentially unexciting Scandinavian footballer.

Tomasson has played his part in changing such perceptions, and midway through the second half he restored Denmark's lead. Sweden did not clear a corner adequately, and when Gravesen's shot was deflected into his path eight yards from goal, the former Newcastle player spun and sidefooted past Isaksson.

Four minutes later, after Gravesen's driving run caused havoc, Isaksson beat out Sand's drive to keep alive a contest which ­ Italy should be informed ­ pulsated like a freshly rung bell right up to Jonson's moment of glory

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test