Sweden see off Armenia as Albania hold Wales in final Euro warm-up - GulfToday

Sweden see off Armenia as Albania hold Wales in final Euro warm-up

Sweden beat Armenia

Sweden’s Marcus Berg (left) shoots to score past Armenia’s goalkeeper David Yurchenko during their friendly match in Solna on Saturday. Agence France-Presse

Sweden will head into Euro 2020 on a positive note after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Armenia which came despite the absence of injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Janne Andersson’s side kick off their European Championship campaign against Spain in Seville on June 14 and also face Slovakia and Robert Lewandowski-led Poland in Group E.

They came out on top at the Friends Arena just outside Stockholm thanks to goals from Emil Forsberg, Marcus Danielson and Marcus Berg.

Forsberg opened the scoring in the 16th minute when his weak free-kick somehow squeezed past Armenia goalkeeper David Yurchenko.

RB Leipzig midfielder Forsberg then turned provider 11 minutes before the break when his free-kick was headed home via a deflection by Danielson.

Sebastian Larsson missed a penalty two minutes later and the away side pulled one back just after the hour mark through Vahan Bichakhchyan, who nodded home on the rebound after his shot was saved by Robin Olsen.

However Berg made sure of the win with five minutes left when he deftly finished past Yurchenko following a neat Robin Quaison pass.

After a much-touted return to the national team at the end of March following an almost five-year hiatus, Ibrahimovic had his sights set on once again playing in an international tournament.

Injury prevents Ibrahimovic making his return to the international stage, but the Swedes boast a new generation of strikers looking to fill the 39-year-old’s shoes.

Alexander Isak scored 17 goals in La Liga for Real Sociedad this season, while Jordan Larsson, son of former Celtic, Manchester United and Barcelona striker Henrik, is in the squad after an impressive campaign with Spartak Moscow.

Juventus’ Dejan Kulusevski could add an extra creative spark to the side that reached the World Cup quarter-finals three years ago, but elsewhere Janne Andersson will be reliant on an ageing core of Robin Olsen, Andreas Granquist, Mikel Lustig, Sebastian Larsson and Emil Forsberg despite concern over their form and fitness.

Only five players, including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Karim Benzema, scored more goals than Isak in La Liga this season. At 6ft 4in (1.90m) he possesses a strong physical presence for a 21-year-old, but is happier with the ball into feet than attacking crosses.

Meanwhile, Wales failed to get a winning send-off to Euro 2020 as Albania held them to a 0-0 draw in front of 6,500 fans in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Dragons start their European Championship campaign in a week’s time against Switzerland and will need a much-improved display when the tournament begins in Baku.

For the most part, it was a frustrating exercise for interim manager Robert Page as Wales created few chances.

The entrance of Gareth Bale from the substitutes’ bench breathed life into the contest and Wales had late openings to avenge their 2018 friendly defeat to Albania.

Bale’s arrival 19 minutes from time instantly produced panic in the Albania penalty area for Neco Williams to sting the palms of goalkeeper Gentian Selmani with the game’s first shot on target.

Moments later Kieffer Moore tested Selmani again after being picked out by a delicious Bale cross, but Albania held firm in the closing stages.

The match was the first time since November 2019 Wales have been able to welcome fans back to the Cardiff City Stadium.

Despite not having much to cheer, they gave the players a rousing send-off in a lap of honour at full-time.

Wales will also face Turkey and Italy in Group A of Euro 2020.


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