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Ibrahimovic scores as Sweden beats defending champion Greece 2-0 at Euro 2008

 Greece's goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis watches the ball entering the goal after sweden's Petter Hansson, unseen, scored the second goal during the g...
 Swedish players celebrate with their supporters after winning 2-0 at the group D match between Greece and Sweden in Salzburg, Austria, Tuesday, June ...

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Greece's goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis watches the ball entering the goal after sweden's Petter Hansson, unseen, scored the second goal during the g...

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Swedish players celebrate with their supporters after winning 2-0 at the group D match between Greece and Sweden in Salzburg, Austria, Tuesday, June ...

Greece's vaunted defense is going to have to get a lot tighter if the surprise champions from four years ago are to avoid a humbling first-round exit at this year's European Championship.
Greece, which had not allowed a goal at the tournament in 425 minutes, gave up two in six minutes of the second half Tuesday to open their Euro 2008 campaign with a 2-0 loss to Sweden.
"The Greeks didn't play with heart like they normally do, and the Swedes pushed us hard," Greece coach Otto Rehhagel said. "Some of my players were unable to play at the level I expected them to. They tried hard but it wasn't enough."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first international goal in almost three years and Petter Hansson hit the second to give the Swedes the maximum three points. In their next match, they'll face Group D favorite Spain, which routed Russia 4-1 in Innsbruck.
"The players did an excellent job," Sweden coach Lars Lagerback said. "I think we deserved to win 100 percent."
Ibrahimovic, set up by strike partner Henrik Larsson, scored in the 67th minute with a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty box. Greece goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis threw himself to the right and got a finger on the ball but it sailed into his upper right corner of the goal.
The last time the Greeks gave up a goal at the continental tournament was in its final group game in 2004, a 2-1 loss to Russia.
"I saw the opening to the left and that's where I put it," said Ibrahimovic, who was named man of the match. "It was a fantastic feeling."
It was the Inter Milan striker's first goal for Sweden since Oct. 12, 2005, when Sweden beat Iceland 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier. Ibrahimovic has now scored 19 goals in 51 matches for Sweden.
Hansson doubled the lead in the 72nd, picking up a rebound off a shot from Fredrik Ljungberg and bundling his way past two defenders to roll the ball over the line. The central defender had nearly given Greece the lead seven minutes earlier when he headed Traianos Dellas' cross dangerously close to the Swedish goal.
The Greeks, starting with seven players from the winning Euro 2004 squad, mounted a late challenge to come back into the match. but a disciplined Swedish defense kept them at bay.
Vassilis Torossidis had the best opportunity when he rushed toward the goal after intercepting a misguided pass from Daniel Andersson, but Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson stopped his low shot with his right leg.
Sweden winger Christian Wilhemsson, who tested the Greek defense with well-timed runs down the flanks, was carried off the field in the second half after pulling his left hamstring. Lagerback said Wilhemsson could miss Sweden's upcoming matches against Spain and Russia.
"It's really sad both for the team and Christian," he said.
The match got off to an uninspired start with both teams more concerned about keeping a tight defense than producing scoring opportunities.
For much of the first half, the defending champions just rolled the ball across their defensive line, drawing whistles from the Swedish section of the 30,000-seat Wals-Siezenheim stadium.
Ibrahimovic had Sweden's best chance before halftime, heading the ball over the crossbar with his back toward the goal.
Isaksson easily stopped two attempts by Angelos Charisteas but struggled to clear a bouncing shot from Greece captain Angelos Basinas. The Greeks wasted a series of erratic high balls toward isolated striker Fanis Gekas, who was replaced at halftime by Georgios Samaras.
Lagerback fielded an experienced lineup, with seven starters older than 30, including Henrik Larsson and fullback Niclas Alexandersson, both 36.
Sweden, in its fifth consecutive major championship, next plays Group D favorite Spain while Greece takes on Russia. Spain crushed the Russians 4-1 earlier Tuesday after a hat trick by David Villa.
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Lineups:
Greece: Antonis Nikopolidis, Giourkas Seitaridis, Vassilis Torossidis, Sotiris Kyrgiakos, Traianos Dellas (Ioannis Amanatidis, 69), Costas Katsouranis, Angelos Basinas, Giorgos Karagounis, Paraskevas Antzas, Angelos Charisteas, Fanis Gekas (Georgios Samaras, 46).
Sweden: Andreas Isaksson, Niclas Alexandersson (Fredrik Stoor, 73), Olof Mellberg, Petter Hansson, Mikael Nilsson, Christian Wilhemsson (Markus Rosenberg, 77), Daniel Andersson, Anders Svensson, Fredrik Ljungberg, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Johan Elmander, 70), Henrik Larsson.


Updated : 2021-05-11 21:55 GMT+08:00