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Victory gives Sweden finals place

  • Story Highlights
  • Sweden secure their place in Euro 2008 following a 2-1 victory over Latvia
  • Northern Ireland are beaten 1-0 in Spain to miss out on reaching the finals
  • Spain finish top of Group F while Sweden qualify as runners-up from the group
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Sweden sealed their place at Euro 2008 with a 2-1 Group F victory over Latvia in Solna which rendered Northern Ireland's bid to win in Spain irrelevant.

Swedish players celebrate beating Latvia to secure their place in the Euro 2008 finals.

Marcus Allback opened the scoring within a minute of kick-off, but Swedish hearts were in their 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 when Zlatan Ibrahimovic provided a 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.

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.

However, relentless Swedish pressure told after 57 minutes when Fredrik Ljungberg passed to Kallstrom, who swept the ball home left-footed from 20 meters.

The victory means Sweden secure their place in Austria and Switzerland by finishing second in the group behind group winners Spain.

Northern Ireland's faint hopes of qualifying were extinguished with a 1-0 defeat to Spain.

The only goal came in the second half when Xavi's long-range drive took a deflection off Sammy Clingan's head to wrong-foot goalkeeper Maik Taylor.

An unlikely victory in Gran Canaria, combined with Latvia beating Sweden, would have seen the Province secure a place in Euro 2008 and end their long absence from a major finals. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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