'Ibra' inspires Sweden comeback, PSG stars shine

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Jonas Eksstromer/Getty ImagesPSG star Zlatan Ibrahimovic sparked Sweden's comeback

Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped inspire his Sweden side to an emphatic comeback against Germany in Berlin on Tuesday as a number of Paris Saint-Germain stars were involved in international action. Mamadou Sakho, Blaise Matuidi and Jeremy Menez were three of seven Ligue 1-based players that started France's match against Spain in Madrid whilst Uruguay's Diego Lugano and Italy's Salvatore Sirigu and Marco Verratti were only spectators for their respective matches.


The Olympiastadion in Berlin was the venue for one of football's most remarkable recent comebacks on Tuesday night. 4-0 down to hosts Germany as the game reached the hour mark, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden side fought back to claim a miraculous point and end Germany's 100% win record in Group C. 'Ibra' captaining his side started the remarkable feat, nodding home a cross from former Lyon midfielder Kim Kallstrom after 62 minutes and two minutes later defender Mikael Lustig halved the deficit with a finish from a tight angle.

Galatasaray's Johan Elmander then got the third before Rasmus Elm hit a stoppage time equaliser after Ibrahimovic's aerial challenge on Per Mertesacker had seen the ball drop to Elm. The result keeps Sweden second in the group, three points behind the Mannschaft and Ibrahimovic's sensational start to the season continues. That his second goal of the qualification campaign.


PSG's Mamadou Sakho, Blaise Matuidi and Jeremy Menez all started the match for Didier Deschamp's France side as they salvaged a late point in Madrid against World and European champions Spain. Former Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud netted a stoppage time header to deny the Spanish victory and the result is a huge boost for les Bleus after a disappointing 0-1 defeat to Japan at the Stade de France last Friday, a match which saw midfielder Clement Chantome return back to the Camp des Loges with an injury.

Speaking after the match Sakho said: "We are happy after this result. It is difficult playing at home against Spain but we can be proud of ourselves. The coach spoke to us at half-time and really lifted us. This reflects the strong collective mentality we have developed. Nobody expected anything from us but we managed to get the point by hitting the mat the right time."

Teammate Matuidi went a step further, calling it the most beautiful performance of his career: "We are delighted with the result. It is not easy taking on the best team in the world. Tonight is a victory for us. It has been the best match of my career so far."

Menez claims : "We didn't steal the point, we got what we deserved. We fought until the end and got our reward. This is a great draw, but it must continue. If we keep our feet on the ground, we can do achieve something impressive. Our goal has always been to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, it has not changed."


This season has been a breakthrough for Marco Verratti which has already resulted in international recognition despite having only played a handful of matches for the capital club. The youngster who has impressed at the heart of the PSG midfield since joining this summer is part of Azzurri manager Cesare Prandelli's planned overhaul of the national side that involves injecting young blood into certain areas of an ageing squad. Despite featuring prominently in Prandelli's plans for the future, the youngster still faces a challenge to work his way into the first team immediately and had to settle for a spot on the bench as the Italians eased to a 3-1 victory over Denmark at the San Siro.

Verratti's PSG teammate Salvatore Sirigu faces an even longer wait than the pint-sized wonderkid. The 25-year old former Palermo stopper is unfortunate to be behind legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in the pecking order for the Azzurri and therefore, barring injury or bad luck, Sirigu has found first team chances hard to come by with only three to his name so far. Even with Buffon injured for the Denmark game, Sirigu still found himself behind Napoli's Morgan de Sanctis.


Diego Lugano's career internationally as well as domestically is suffering due to his lack of playing time. Not only has he been stripped of the captaincy after losing his place in la Celeste's starting line-up, Uruguay are struggling to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil following a string of disappointing results. The latest of those came on Tuesday in La Paz where Bolivia thumped Lugano's side 4-1.

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