November 15, 2011



4 - 2



20:00 +00:00, November 15, 2011


Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen


    But it is all about Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he of the four goals and the last of those strikes just gorgeous. Really, really special. Thank you for your company this evening. I've been James Dall. Until next time.


    So, not a bad international friendly in terms of enjoyment. England blooded some young talent, with Sterling and Caulker impressing on their debuts. Wilshere also returned and at least escaped injury.


    Blimey. What a way to open the Friends Arena. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was already destined for the history books of football for his quality over the years, but the four struck tonight screamed louder his brilliance.

  • 90'

    Full-time: Sweden 4-2 England - the Zlatan show.

  • 90'

    Ibra booked for taking his shirt off at celebrating his fourth goal, which was mega.

  • 90'

    Goodness me. Right, let's get this out of the way: Hart made an error. Regardless, after said goalkeeper had weakly headed clear, Zlatan then executed a quite stunning overhead kick from about 30/35 yards out to loop the ball over the defenders and into the net. Superb.

  • 90'

    GOAL!!! Zlatan. And it is incredible.

  • 90'

    Four minutes of added time to be played.

  • 89'

    Wilshere looks on angrily after having his feet taken away from his by Zlatan. No card forthcoming for the hat-trick hero though.

  • 88'

    Osman arrives late in the area and yellow legs are been swung. He might have gone down, but the ball is lost.

  • 87'

    Wilshere is booked for a body check on Zlatan. Amusing clash that.

  • 87'

    Zaha is on for England.

  • 86'

    Ibra trots up to a free-kick and hits it low. It skims off the turf and nestles into the bottom corner. Hart was nowhere near, yet he probably should have been.

  • 85'

    GOAL!!! Hat-trick for Zlatan!

  • 84'

    Zlatan free-kick forthcoming...

  • 83'

    Zaha is also about to come on. He who apparently received a call from Drogba about pledging his allegiance to Ivory Coast.

  • 82'

    Bizarre moment as Andreas Isaksson's kick hits the cables that hold the suspended TV camera. A drop ball is then had.

  • 81'

    Neat feet from Osman before he drags a tame effort at the goalkeeper.

  • 80'

    Huddlestone sends in a free-kick but Sturridge's header is loopy and floats over. The flag was up, too.

  • 79'

    Wilshere has already been fouled three times.

  • 78'

    Ibrahimovic's movement is smart as he loses Shawcross entirely. Svensson dinks a ball into his path and the PSG striker thunders in a wicked volley.

  • 77'

    GOAL!!! Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes it 2-2!

  • 76'

    England have been happy to hit Sweden on the counter and Welbeck leads a charge before under-hitting his pass to Sturridge.

  • 75'

    Jenkinson's first international touch is a ball down the line that finds a yellow shirt. Sweden are enjoying much more of the ball now.

  • 74'

    Gerrard shakes hands with those on the bench after marking his 100th cap with a solid display that included an assist.

  • 73'

    Triple England change: Caulker off for Shawcross, Johnson off for Jenksinon and Gerrard off for Huddlestone.

  • 72'

    Sweden change: Sana is on for Lustig.

  • 71'

    Carl Jenkinson due to come on, apparently.

  • 70'

    Smart play from Wilshere and he brings the ball forward before switching the play. The move breaks down as Gerrard attempts to find Welbeck.

  • 69'

    Hart scoops up a chipped ball in from the left. If a leveller is to come, it is almost certainly going to come via Zlatan, who looks a class apart, with all due respect to his Sweden team-mates.

  • 68'

    Granqvist in the book for a clumsy tackle on Wilshere.

  • 67'

    Gerrard is in the mood to mark his 100th cap with a worldy, make no mistake. Indeed, he's just attempted a scissors like volley, but the effort bounced wide of the post.

  • 66'

    Sturridge wins a free-kick after being bundled into by Granqvist. The Chelsea man dusts himself down and gets on with proceedings.

  • 65'

    Sweden have at least improved over the last five minutes, following a sleepy start to the second period.

  • 64'

    Seconds later, Zlatan finds better space and this time blasts first time. It would have been a stunning goal, but the shot was skewed off target.

  • 63'

    Ibra attempts to roll Caulker but the defender does enough to force him wide, meaning the Swede's strike is from an acute angle and is blazed off target.

  • 62'

    Arsenal fans hold their breath as Wilshere enters the fray. Arsene too, for that matter.

  • 61'

    Sweden change: Kallstrom off for Svensson. England subs: Young off for Sturridge, Cleverley off for Wilshere.

  • 60'

    Wilshere is about to come on, is the word on the street.

  • 59'

    Baines is alive to a ball over the top. He swings a right boot at the ball to deny the lurking Zlatan.

  • 58'

    Hart rises to claim a high ball but he fails to keep hold of the ball. Larsson strikes the spillage, but his effort is high, with the midfielder leaning back.

  • 57'

    Kacaniklic scampers down the left and cuts the ball back but no team-mate is there and England calmly play the ball out.

  • 56'

    Gerrard has a smash from distance. It swerves and Isaksson is forced to spring to his left and parry clear.

  • 55'

    England are well on top at present. Sweden, like their fans, have been very flat.

  • 54'

    Sterling and Young have switched flanks. Hodgson, you sly dog.

  • 53'

    The more-involved Osman swivel and pings one at the near post, but Andreas Isaksson is down well to palm away.

  • 52'

    Sterling is a thorn in Sweden's side.

  • 51'

    Corner to England after some wriggling down the right flank. They might have dinked it to the back post where Baines was waiting.

  • 50'

    I have said it before, but, just to reiterate, the atmosphere is very bad. Could hear a pin drop, and other such idioms.

  • 49'

    Osman already move involved in the second period than he was in the first, demonstrating some nifty footwork and the like.

  • 48'

    Terrific cross from Baines following smart hold up play from Welbeck. The delivery zooms past everyone, until Osman arrives at the back post to toe it wide from a tight angle.

  • 47'

    Behrang Safari, on for Martin Olsson, loops a cross in from the left and Zlatan rises unmarked. He nods over the bar, struggling to get power on the header.

  • 46'

    Second half: England get us back under way.


    As mentioned, Hart hasn't helped the England defence's cause with some hesitant decision-making. On the positive side, Sterling has been bright, with his pass into Young during the leveller a peach.



    Zlatan opened the scoring against a rickety England backline with a classy finish, but the visitors have looked threatening with their delivery in behind Sweden's backline. And so it told when Young sent in an inviting cross for Welbeck to divert in before Caulker netted on his debut, getting on the end of 100-cap Gerrard's delivery.

  • 45'

    Half-time: Sweden 1-2 England

  • 45'

    Already thoughts turn to who might come on in the second half, with Wilshere and Zaha among the young stars who could feature.

  • 44'

    One minute of added time will be played.

  • 43'

    Chance for Sweden to test the unconvincing Hart as they win a free-kick on the left. It is sent in and again the goalkeeper is a bit iffy. Ultimately, though, it is cleared.


  • 42'

    Sterling's been a positive. He has played without an ounce of fear.

  • 41'

    Almost a second of the game for Zlatan as, similar to his first one, he stabs at the ball but this time the shot is lifted over the crossbar.

  • 40'

    "1-0 and you f****d it up," sing the travelling fans.

  • 39'

    Caulker was of course on target at the weekend for Spurs against Man City. An excellent week for the promising defender.

  • 38'

    Gerrard swings in a fine delivery and the debutant Caulker ghosts in at the back post to tap in from a yard or so out.

  • 37'

    GOAL!!! Caulker scores on his debut!

  • 36'

    Young sends in a delicious cross from the left side and Welbeck gambles. He loses his man before stretching to direct in from close range.

  • 36'

    GOAL!!! Welbeck makes it 1-1!

  • 34'

    The flag is up for offside, perhaps wrongly, as the corner is cleared but the ball then clipped back in. Cahill and Gerrard were both lurking.

  • 33'

    England corner after Young's bending cross is headed over.

  • 32'

    England are fine at keeping the ball in non-threatening areas, but when a killer pass is attempted it is invariably loose.

  • 31'

    Shambolic scenes in the England defence as another defensive mix-up between goalkeeper and centre-backs sees the ball pop out to Mathias Ranégie, who blazes over the bar when he should certainly score.

  • 30'

    Oh, my...

  • 29'

    Caulker ruffled just now by Zlatan. Could be a long night for the youngster.

  • 28'

    Not convincing defending from the away side as they fail to fully clear an attack. Zlatan then bangs one from about 20 yards out but it hits a team-mate and zips wide.

  • 27'

    Another scare for England as a delivery, yet again from a wide area, in between the defence and goalkeeper threatens to be turned in.

  • 26'

    Sterling paces forward then slips a pass to his right. Welbeck holds it up before laying it off to Johnson, who lashes a shot goalwards. It is going wide but Cleverley stretches a leg out to it from just a few yards away from goal. He makes contact but fails to steer it home.

  • 25'


  • 24'

    Sterling has endured a rough and ready opening to his first England start. A couple of times he has been clattered.

  • 23'

    England have actually enjoyed more of the ball, but have lacked penetration come the final third, with Sweden happy to soak up matters then counter.

  • 22'

    Cleverley attempts a cross but it is a looping effort that is easily caught by the goalkeeper. Never threatened.

  • 21'

    Sweden have their tails up as Lustig whirls in a cross from the right. It finds no-one though.

  • 20'

    Very cool finish. England lost possession high up the field and Sweden sprung clear. Martin Olsson fires in a skimming cross. Zlatan's first effort hits Cahill but the striker reacts quickest to the loose ball by stabbing it past Joe Hart.

  • 19'

    GOAL!!! Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores!

  • 18'

    Tidy passage of play from England under pressure. The atmosphere, meanwhile, remains pretty poor. Mexican wave, etc.

  • 17'

    First proper shot by Sweden as Kallstrom fires a skimming one wide. Hart was a-scrambling.

  • 16'

    Ooof! Gerrard sends in a tempting free-kick that Cahill attempts to flick home, but the defender fails to make contact and Isaksson just about gathers.

  • 15'

    Gerrard whips in a corner but Jonas Olsson leaps to get above Cahill and nod away.

  • 14'

    Seconds later, Ashley Young bursts onto Gerrard's decent ball, but his first touch is rotten. He was offside too.

  • 13'

    Ranégie falls on his bottom after he slipped when trying to control a low cross.

  • 12'

    "Why is Ashley Young playing?" asks a colleague. Good point. As I type, the winger scampers onto a long ball but can't get there.

  • 11'

    Zlatan update: he is tying a shoelace. Meanwhile, Caulker makes a vital interception.

  • 10'

    A modicum of pressure exerted by Sweden, but nothing too meaningful just yet. Mainly passes down the right flank.

  • 9'

    A shot! Osman digs out a left-footed number which bobbles on the iffy surface before being gobbled up by Isaksson.

  • 8'

    Atmosphere: flat.

  • 7'

    Ashley Young hits the deck as his tasered, but the referee waves away his appeals for a free-kick.

  • 6'

    Worst. Pass. Ever. Jonas Olsson, of West Brom, hopelessly lofts one out for a throw-in.

  • 5'

    Promising opening for England down the left flank, but Cleverley's pass into Welbeck is thumped rather than caressed, and a handball is eventually given.

  • 4'

    Not much occurring just yet. Hodgson is looking thoughtful. He also has a big watch.

  • 3'

    Hairy moment as Hart is sluggish off his line. Cahill is forced to hack clear before colliding into the goalkeeper.

  • 2'

    "Proper test, proper game," says Andy Townsend. Let's see, eh, Andy.

  • 1'

    Kick-off: Sweden get us under way.


    Zlatan skippers the Swedes. His hair looks excellent. Really excellent.


    The BIG (?) talking point is Gerrard earning his 100th cap. But alongside this landmark we have three England debutants, with Caulker, Osman and Sterling all making their bows.


    Them are the teams, and I (James Dall) am your writer man. We've got some international football on our hands. Oh, boy yes - try not to get too excited. Anyway, right now it is national anthem time.


    England: Hart, Johnson, Caulker, Cahill, Baines, Cleverley, Gerrard, Osman, Young, Sterling, Welbeck. Subs: Ruddy, Jenkinson, Bertrand, Jagielka, Shawcross, Wilshere, Huddlestone, Zaha, Sturridge, Forster.


    Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig, Granqvist, Jonas Olsson, Martin Olsson, Larsson, Elm, Kallstrom, Kacaniklic, Ibrahimovic, Ranegie. Subs: Hansson, Svensson, Jansson, Sana, Wernbloom, Safari, Holmen, Berg, Hamad.


    Good evening and welcome to ESPN's live minute-by-minute commentary of Sweden's friendly against England.