Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired Sweden to Euro 2016 with a double against Denmark and quipped after: “They said they were going to send me to retirement. I sent their whole nation into retirement.”
The PSG striker gave Sweden a 2-2 draw away to Denmark as they qualified for Euro 2016 on Tuesday by 4-3 on aggregate against their Scandinavian rivals.
Ibrahimovic silenced the home fans in the 19th minute when he ghosted out to meet Kim Kallstrom’s corner, twisting athletically to sweep the ball past flat-footed goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Then he punished the Danes for their failure to create chances with a beautiful curling free kick in the 76th minute to send the Swedes closer to a place in France next year.
Late goals by Yussuf Poulsen and Jannik Vestergaard provided some comfort for the home fans.
With Denmark coach Morten Olsen making four changes from the team that started Saturday’s 2-1 defeat in Stockholm, the Danes looked much more muscular in midfield, but the final ball was often poor.
Striker Nicklas Bendtner had a game to forget in his home town, and was widely booed when he was replaced by Morten Rasmussen on the hour.
Denmark had overrun the Swedes in the opening exchanges and should have broken the deadlock in the eighth minute, but Poulsen, Daniel Agger and Thomas Delaney all failed to find the net in quick succession.
Ibrahimovic eschewed his usual array of flicks and tricks in favour of hard defensive work, inspiring his side to cover every blade of grass on the Parken pitch.
It was an effort that paid off handsomely, thanks to the striker’s double, and the Swedish fans ended their evening by singing the national anthem on a drizzly Danish night, no doubt dreaming of the warmer climes of France next year.