Sweden 1 Chile 1: Larsson's sensational strike fails to paper over Swedish flaws

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The Independent Online

Sweden brought the curtain down on their World Cup preparations with an entertaining draw against Chile at Rasunda Stadium.

Henrik Larsson gave the hosts the lead but an equaliser from Humberto Suazo shortly after the interval slightly soured the celebrations as Sweden prepare to leave for Germany.

Coach Lars Lagerback fielded the line-up which is expected to start the World Cup opener against Trinidad and Tobago, with Niclas Alexandersson preferred at right-back to Michael Nilsson, while Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic resumed their partnership up front.

Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg was also in the starting XI as he continues his recovery from a niggling foot injury, but the Swedes struggled to gel in the opening stages while Chile looked more confident.

And it was the South American visitors who had the first glimpse of goal after nine minutes when a cross from Alexis Sanchez on the right was drilled low by Luis Jimenez into the arms of Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.

Sweden created their first opening seven minutes later with Ibrahimovic pushing Larsson's lay-off wide of the left post, while Ljungberg was unlucky not to open the scoring soon after when his close-range effort was kept out by a point-blank save from Claudio Bravo, who also thwarted Larsson's follow-up.

It was Isaksson's turn to keep the scores level after 28 minutes when a free-kick from Luis Jimenez was seen late by the Sweden custodian, who still managed to parry the ball to safety.

And three minutes later Sweden finally brought the Rasunda crowd to their feet with the opening goal with Larsson curling a 20-yard free-kick past a hapless Bravo.

The visitors hit back with a free-kick of their own which Luis Jimenez curled narrowly wide.

The South Americans finished the first half strongly with Gonzalo Jara lofting another free-kick inches over Isaksson's crossbar.

Sweden made three changes at the interval but it did little to help them as they found the scoreline at 1-1 just six minutes later when a one-two between Suazo and Jorge Valdiva saw the former lift the ball over Isaksson.

Substitute Mattias Jonson almost restored the hosts' advantage soon after but his volley flew frustratingly past the right post, but Chile continued to push forward and only a late intervention by Olof Mellberg denied Valdiva a second goal for the visitors.

Then Sweden saw Anders Svensson's effort come back off the right post.

Valdiva's weak shot was deflected into the arms of Isaksson, while at the other end Jonson again failed to find the target, drilling his shot wide of the upright as both teams settled for a draw.

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