Stunned Swedes blame bad luck for early exit
KIEV, June 16 – Sweden’s stunned players blamed poor luck for their 3-2 defeat by England in a thrilling Euro 2012 Group D match at the Olympic Stadium and thought they were the better team on the night.
The Swedes said they were frustrated by England’s defensive approach and long-ball tactics which paid off in the end.
Midfielder Sebastian Larsson, who has spent his entire career in England with Arsenal, Birmingham City and Sunderland, said Theo Walcott’s deflected equaliser to make the score 2-2 just past the hour happens once in a thousand attempts.
“I threw myself to block the shot, it touched the slightest millimetre of my shin pad but it was enough to cause problems for ‘Isak’ (goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson) and it went in,” he told reproters.
“That happens once in a thousand efforts. There’s not a lot more to say.”
Larsson added that his team felt they were far better than a defensive England side and Sweden deserved to win.
“Without a doubt, but what does it matter? We’re desperately disappointed, but it doesn’t make any difference. If you want to go through the game, the way it felt on the pitch was that we were clearly the better team.
“We meet an extremely defensive side that go for long balls, and that’s the way they can threaten us, but they win the game. What the hell difference does it make if we were better or not?”
Sweden had fallen behind to an Andy Carroll header before centre back Olof Mellberg dragged his side back into the game by forcing an own goal, scoring another and defending maniacally against England’s aerial attack.
But Walcott’s deflected shot put England level and he then teed up Danny Welbeck for a deft finish to send Sweden heading for the exit along with Ireland.
Drained after his efforts, Larsson thanked the fans and apologised for Sweden’s results.
“Fantastic support. We had it against Ukraine too. They’re all incredibly disappointed, as we are. You represent your country, but you’re also a supporter.”
“What do I say? I’m sorry but we did everything to make it go right, but it wasn’t (successful) this time. Obviously, we feel for the fans that have come here.
“There are no excuses, we lead two matches after 60 minutes and we leave without any points. It’s not good enough.”
Sweden face France in their final Group D game on Tuesday when the French need a point to clinch a quarter-final spot. – Reuters