STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Without captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a second straight game, Sweden struggled to convert their chances but still beat Liechtenstein 2-0 in their Group G Euro 2016 qualifier at the Friends Arena on Sunday.
With striker Ibrahimovic confined to the bench due to a persistent heel injury, the Swedes spent most of the first half-hour firing in a succession of crosses and peppering Cengiz Bicer in the Liechetenstein goal, but the visitors held firm.
Winger Emil Forsberg did manage to beat Bicer after chesting the ball down in the box and rifling home, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Any attacks the visitors had were short-lived, with the home side often winning the ball back quickly and attacking the massed red ranks of Liechtenstein defenders once again.
Erkan Zengin finally broke the deadlock after 34 minutes with his second goal in three qualifying games, his thumping shot taking a deflection off a defender and looping over the goalkeeper into the net, prompting Zengin to run to the bench to celebrate with Ibra.
Jimmy Durmaz doubled Sweden’s advantage in the first minute of the second half, stabbing the ball home from close range after Bicer horribly sliced a left-footed clearance into his path.
Despite a slew of efforts on goal, the Swedes could not add to their tally, but the win puts Sweden in third place in Group G on five points, the same number as Russia who are in second thanks to their superior goal difference.
Austria lead the group on seven points having beaten Montenegro 1-0 earlier in the day, with Liechtenstein bottom on one point.