LONDON: England remained on course for a place in the knockout rounds of Euro 2012 after coming from behind to send Sweden crashing out of the tournament with a 3-2 victory here on Friday.
Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck scored a well-taken winner for England in the 78th minute after the introduction of substitute Theo Walcott swung a see-saw Group D battle back in his side’s favour.
England had got off to a dream start when recalled striker Andy Carroll headed them into a 23rd-minute lead.But an own goal from Glen Johnson on 49 minutes followed by a header from Olof Mellberg in the 59th minute threatened to set up a disastrous night for Roy Hodgson’s side.
However, the substitution of James Milner for Walcott changed the game. The Arsenal winger lashed in a 64th-minute equaliser to make it 2-2 and then provided the run and pass which set up Welbeck’s winner.Hodgson praised the way his side had fought back to win after trailing early in the second half.
“It was a cracking game of football. We were reasonably comfortable at half-time and had a good control of the game before they rocked us on our heels,” Hodgson said.
“We knew how dangerous they were from set-pieces and they proved true to that. But it was very good the way the team responded to that.”It’s difficult at this level, we’re playing against good teams. Our attacking play showed good intentions and we looked dangerous.”But Sweden counterpart Erik Hamren was disconsolate after watching his side go out.
“I feel really bad for the players,” Hamren said. “They played a really good match but went out. The operation went well but the patient died. That’s how I feel today,” he said.
England’s first ever competitive win over the Swedes means they will qualify for the quarter-finals with only a point in their final group game against co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk next Tuesday.
However, Hodgson will want to see a marked improvement from his side if they are to secure the draw they need after a performance littered with errors and shaky defending.
England had started positively, Scott Parker forcing a fine save out of Andreas Isaksson after only seven minutes with a fine swerving effort.