x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Euro 2012: Sweden 2 France 0

Sweden see off poor France in Group D finale.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right, scored Sweden's opener against France.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right, scored Sweden's opener against France.

France may rue their lucklustre performance at Kiev's Olympic Stadium last night after a 2-0 defeat to Sweden meant they finished runners-up in Group D, meaning a quarter-final match against defending champions Spain on Saturday.

With England beating Ukraine 1-0 in Donetsk, Laurent Blanc's side now face the world and European champions while England meet Italy on Sunday for a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2012.

A spectacular volley from Zlatan Ibrahimovic on 54 minutes and an injury-time tap in from Sebastian Larsson ensured Sweden a third-place finish at the expense of co-hosts Ukraine.

Sweden made the brighter start and as Kim Kallstrom's long ball forward set striker Ola Toivonen clear on goal. Toivonen rounded the onrushing French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris but his shot from a difficult angle hit the outside of the post.

Karim Benzema responded at the opposite end when he benefitted from a slip-up by a Swedish defender which left him free in the box but his shot was well blocked by Andreas Isaakson in the Sweden goal. When the goal did come, it was more than worth the wait.

Larsson swung in a peach of a cross from the right, and the AC Milan striker Ibrahimovic launched himself acrobatically at the ball to finish with a volley of pure class.

Despite news filtering through that England had taken the lead against Ukraine in the other group game, France seemed reluctant to commit bodies forward in search of the two goals they would possibly need to avoid a quarter-final match with Spain.

As they struggled to penetrate a stubborn Sweden defence, substitutes Jeremy Menez and Olivier Giroud were introduced for Samir Nasri and Yann M'Vila and both added much-needed energy into the France attack.

Menez's left-foot volley on 85 minutes was cleared off the line by Olof Mellberg and Giroud, who will join Arsenal after the tournament, wasted a glorious chance after Ribery picked him out with a cross from the left, but the striker's header was well wide.

Larsson, the Sunderland winger, made sure of victory in the dying embers of the game when he thumped home from close range after Christian Wilhelmsson hit the crossbar.