STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - France looked to be heading for a hard-fought draw against World Cup qualifying Group A rivals Sweden but a stoppage-time rush of blood to the head of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saw the hosts snatch a goal deep into stoppage time to win 2-1 on Friday.
The 30-year-old keeper looked to have the situation under control as he took possession of the ball in his own half, but Sweden substitute Sebastian Larsson made a lung-busting run to put him under pressure.
After pushing Lloris wide, Larsson eventually forced a poor clearance, which Ola Toivonen gleefully sent flying over Lloris’s head into the empty French net from the halfway line to put Sweden top of the group on 13 points with France.
“It’s a fantastic game by the whole team,” a tearful Toivonen told Swedish TV after the unlikely victory. “The last 20, 15 minutes it was tough for us, but with the power of the crowd we had the energy to go the whole way.”
Exasperated France coach Didier Deschamps told a news conference: “Sure, he (Lloris) should have cleared it and sent the ball up the pitch, he knows that and I can’t keep repeating it.
After a closely-fought 2-1 loss in Paris, Sweden coach Jan Andersson was a lot happier in Stockholm.
“As soon as he (Toivonen) hit the ball, I started celebrating as if it was already a goal, it was the right player that got the chance,” Andersson told reporters.
“It was a tremendous experience. It’s luck too, that we got that chance.
“I think we had to work a lot harder in the second half than we did in Paris, but on the whole I don’t think it’s unfair that they won there and we won here. We had a little luck today, but I’m very happy with how the players played.”
Asked if he felt any sympathy for Lloris, Andersson gave a wry smile. “It was Ola Toivonen that decided the game,” he said, before returning to the celebrations in Sweden’s dressing room.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris