Sweden sealed their place at Euro 2008 with victory over Latvia in Solna which
rendered Northern Ireland's bid to win in Spain irrelevant.
Marcus Allback opened the scoring within a minute of kick-off, but Swedish
hearts were in mouths when Juris Laizans equalised after 26 minutes.
Kim Kallstrom re-established the lead just short of the hour mark and Latvia
never looked liked spoiling the hosts' day.
Sweden got off to a dream start as they took the lead in the very first
Zlatan Ibrahimovic provided the cross from the right for Allback to head home
from close range.
Sweden attacked relentlessly and Kallstrom tested Latvia goalkeeper Aleksandrs
Kolinko before Ibrahimovic fired wide.
When Laizans fouled Allback 20 yards from goal, Ibrahimovic was presented with
another chance but the Internazionale striker's free-kick was held by Kolinko.
At the other end, Laizans twice served notice of his danger, first firing wide
from 20 yards, then bringing a fine save from Sweden stopper Andreas Isaksson,
who turned the ball out for a corner.
Still, however, the Sweden defence allowed Laizans space and when the ball
broke to him after 26 minutes, his deflected shot left the sprawling Isaksson
with no chance.
Sweden refused to learn and Laizans shot again, but this time Isaksson held
The hosts retaliated, subjecting the Latvia defence to waves of attack, but
Mikael Nilsson and Kallstrom both failed to find the target.
Anders Svensson tried his luck three minutes before the break but saw his shot
blocked by Deniss Ivanovs.
The hosts continued to attack after half-time, but Ibrahimovic fired over from
12 yards before Allback was wasteful from similar range.
The pressure told after 57 minutes when Sweden re-took the lead.
Fredrik Ljungberg on the right passed to Kallstrom, who swept the ball home
left-footed from 20 yards.
Aleksejs Visnjakovs fired over from 30 yards, but on the whole it was Sweden
Dzintars Zirnis fouled Ljungberg and the West Ham midfielder sent his
free-kick into the box, but Allback's header was held by Kolinko.
Kallstrom could not find the target with 15 minutes remaining and Daniel
Majstorovic headed over, before the industrious Kallstrom tested Kolinko with a
shot from the edge of the box.
The third goal would not come, but it mattered little as Sweden were left to
look forward to a trip to Austria and Switzerland.