Swedish national team head coach Erik Hamrén used a new-look lineup in his team’s first qualifying match for the 2012 UEFA European Champions and it paid off as Sweden topped Moldova 2-0 March 29 at Råsunda Stadium.
Hamrén trotted out a team that featured just four regular players – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andreas Isaksson, Kim Källström and Johan Elmander. The Sweden manager decided to go with youth against a side most people expected the Blue and Yellow to beat and despite some anxious moments, Hamrén got what he wanted.

“It wasn’t our best match,” said Hamrén. “We played a little too direct, but I am happy with the three points.”
Sweden created chance after chance in the first half for strikers Ibrahimovic and Elmander, only to see those shots go wide or end up in the arms of Moldova goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco. Ibrahimovic was most to blame as he flubbed a pair of shots inside the penalty area off passes from Emir Bajrami. The FC Twente midfielder was in just his seventh international for Sweden and was arguably the best player on the pitch.

Lead at half-hour mark
Sweden finally took the lead at the half-hour mark. Defender Mikael Lustig, making his 13th appearance for Sweden, won a footrace with Moldovan defender Igor Armas for a pass from Bajrami. Lustig turned and fired the ball toward goal. It deflected off Armas and past Namasco for a 1-0 lead. The goal was Lustig’s first for the national team.
Sweden had a golden chance to make it 2-0 at the stroke of half-time when IFK Norrköping defender Petru Racu hauled down Ibrahimovic in the penalty area. The AC Milan forward calmly took the shot but hit it too close to Namasco, who made the save.
FC Birmingham midfielder Sebastian Larsson finally got the second goal Sweden needed in the 82nd minute. Lustig and Ibrahimovic set up the midfielder, who stepped around a pair of defenders before flicking the ball past Namasco. The goal was Larsson’s first the national team in 28 matches.
Moldova gave Hamrén and Sweden pause for worry when Alexandru Suvorov scored in stoppage time, but the Blue and Yellow held their nerves and took home the win.
“We missed far too many chances," said Ibrahimoic. "I missed a penalty but we won the match, which was important. I moved well and had a lot of the ball, but I should have scored with all the chances I had."
Sweden is currently second in Group E, nine points behind group leader Holland. The Dutch have a perfect 6-0 record, while Sweden, with two games in hand, is 3-0-1

by Chipp Reid