The Finnish men’s football team tasted bitter defeat when rivals Sweden beat them Friday evening in a European Championship qualifier. The 2-1 result assures the Swedes of a place in the play-off.
In spite of a heroic battle which thrilled home team supporters, Sweden bested Finland to secure second position in Group E and advance to the play-off to secure a spot in the European Championship finals.
The Swedes took the lead in the eighth minute with a goal by Larsson, followed by another in the 52nd minute by Olsson. Down but not out, Finland clawed their way back into the game with a goal by Toivio in the 73rd minute.
The lone goal was some consolation for the home team and its supporters, with the 5-nil drubbing from Sweden back in June still fresh in many minds.
Finland will play Hungary next Tuesday. The Finns, in a distant fourth place in the group, have no chance of advancing to the next round.
“Like fighting with a brother”
In a pre-game press conference Thursday Sweden coach Erik HamrÃƒÂ©n said his team was looking forward to playing their traditional rivals. “Playing Finland, or other Scandinavian countries, that’s like fighting with a brother or a sister — you love them but you want to win. It’s really nice to be the winning party in those games,” he added.
His Finnish counterpart, Mixu Paatelainen, said that Finland was in a good situation because they have 10 million Hungarians supporting them tomorrow night, and nine million Swedes next Tuesday. “All along, I want us to play positive football, and sometimes it’s very difficult against a quality team like Sweden,” he added.