Sweden smothered by dominant Dutch

Sweden smothered by dominant Dutch
Kim Kallstrom, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Ola Toivonen lament a Dutch goal
Two devastating first half mistakes by Sweden paved the way for a crushing 1-4 defeat at the hands of World Cup finalists the Netherlands in Euro 2012 qualifying play on Tuesday.

The victory sees the Dutch maintain their perfect start to the qualifiers with four wins from four matches with the only black spot of the night an ankle injury to winger Dirk Kuyt that saw him taken to hospital.

After only four minutes of play, Swedish defender Andreas Granqvist, starting in place of the suspended Olof Mellberg, turned the ball over the Dutch sniper Wesley Sneijder.

Sneijder in turn fed the ball to to Rafael van der Vaart who then set up Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.for the Netherlands’ first goal.

The Dutch later took advantage of an ill-conceived throw in by left back Behrang Safari, which landed at Sneijder’s feet, making it easy for teammate Ibrahim Afellay to take his feed and split through the Swedish backline for the score.

“Not good at all. It’s a catastrophe,” Sweden’s star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic told TV4 following the match.

Ibrahimovic struggled to find a path to the goal for much of the match, with his first real scoring chance coming on a strike from 20 metres out which ended up in the arms of Maarten Stekelenburg.

“They were much better than us. It feels like they could control the game. Every time we made progress, it feels like we got hit back,” said Ibrahimovic.

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk said that he was worried the injury to Kuyt was a serious one, but was delighted with the manner of his side’s victory.

“We played really well,” said van Marwijk, who was praised last week for the stance he took over ejecting midfielder Nigel de Jong from the squad for a horror tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa in the English Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle.

“We could have scored a few more. But we also offered up a few opportunities to our opponents. But overall, we played football that I like to watch.”

Huntelaar – who has failed to sparkle both at AC Milan and then Real Madrid before alighting on Schalke 04 – later took his tally to eight goals in the four qualifiers when he made it 3-0 following up a beautiful piece of individual skill by Afellay.

Afellay had never scored in his previous 29 appearances for the ‘Oranje’ but he ended that drought in style on Tuesday.

He added to his first half tally and rounded off the scoring in the 59th minute after being found by Huntelaar and finished the match in tears with the emotion of it being too much for him.

The Swedes were shell-shocked but still at least managed a consolation effort by Granqvist in the 69th minute.

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