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International round-up: Germany lose four-goal lead as Ibrahimovic inspires Sweden fightback

 

Gordon Tynan
Wednesday 17 October 2012 11:07
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Rasmus Elm's last-minute equaliser ended the Germans' 100 per cent record
Rasmus Elm's last-minute equaliser ended the Germans' 100 per cent record

Germany squandered a four-goal advantage with 30 minutes to play as Sweden fought back to claim a 4-4 draw last night.

After defeating the Republic of Ireland 6-1 on Friday, Joachim Löw's side looked set for another proud night in front of their home crowd but Miroslav Klose's feat in moving one goal shy of Gerd Müller's all-time Germany goalscoring record was overshadowed by his side's capitulation.

Klose's two goals, complemented by Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker's close-range finish and Mesut Ozil's strike gave Germany a 4-0 lead after 55 minutes. But the Sweden captain, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, launched the fightback with a brilliant header in the 62nd minute. Mikael Lustig pulled another goal back before Johan Elmander cut Germany's lead to 4-3. Rasmus Elm then grabbed the equaliser just before the final whistle as Germany lost their 100 per cent record in Group C.

The result leaves the group open for Ireland who are one off seven-point Sweden, whom they play next in the group, and four away from Germany. Austria are on four points thanks to a 4-0 win over Kazakhstan.

Northern Ireland looked set to spoil Cristiano Ronaldo's 100th cap as they desperately held on to a 1-0 lead following Niall McGinn's first-half goal against Portugal in Porto in Group F. The visitors' defence finally gave way to Helder Postiga's 79th-minute equaliser but Michael O'Neill's side still earned a very creditable 1-1 draw.

"I'm hugely proud of the effort and what the players gave us tonight," said O'Neill. "I think we saw a huge amount of character in this team."

Montenegro emerged as England's main threat in Group H after last night's shock 1-0 win in Ukraine put them level with Roy Hodgson's side on seven points from three games. Dejan Damjanovic scored the only goal of the game after 45 minutes. Moldova won 2-0 in San Marino in Group H's other match.

Macedonia recorded a shock of their own, defeating Serbia 1-0 at home to offer a sliver of hope to Scottish and Welsh ambitions of qualification from Group A. Two points separate those four sides with the eastern European teams three adrift of second-placed Belgium.

Fabio Capello's Russia are one of only two European nations who can boast a 100 per cent record after their 1-0 win over Azerbaijan. The home side dominated proceedings but could not find a way through until Roman Shirokov's 84th-minute penalty eased the former England manager's nerves.

Italy came away convincing winners from their match with Denmark 4-1. Two goals from Daniele de Rossi and one each for Riccardo Montolivo and Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli saw the Azzurri romp home in spite of Pablo Daniel Osvaldo's 46th-minute sending-off for violent conduct at the start of the second half.

The Netherlands, finalists in 2010, won their fourth successive match 4-1 in Romania. Jeremain Lens headed the Dutch into a ninth-minute lead and Bruno Martens made it 2-0 by tapping in a Rafael van der Vaart free-kick. The home side pulled a goal back through Ciprian Marica but on half-time Louis van Gaal's side restored their two-goal lead when Van der Vaart scored from the spot. Robin van Persie completed the scoring.

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