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A goal down to Austria—who would move level on points with the Swedes if they could hold on—with a final game against Germany to come, Sweden stood very much on the precipice of failing to do what was needed: claim three points and make a playoff place their own.
However, while the team assembled by Erik Hamren is best described as workmanlike, their captain is anything but.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is, perhaps, the greatest player the Blagult have ever produced—certainly since the 1950s—and the PSG striker stood up and made all the difference here, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and leading his country to the playoff spot they craved so dearly.
Ibracadabra had been bright throughout, linking well with midfield and showing signs of his creative qualities albeit with little reward. However, when his country needed him to come up with a big moment, the 32-year-old came up with two.
Firstly, after an incisive passing move down the left, Seb Larsson found Ibrahimovic in the inside left channel, and the 6'5" forward clipped an intelligent cross onto the head of left-back Martin Olsson, the Norwich defender diverting his header into the far corner.
And with five minutes remaining, Sweden's skipper clinically placed his country into November's playoffs. A wonderful long ball from Spartak Moscow's Kim Kallstrom cut through the stationary Austria defence, and Ibrahimovic, having timed his run to perfection, controlled perfectly with his right foot, before sliding the ball into the far corner with his left, to send Solna's Friends Arena into raptures.
On this night, it was very much a case of "Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Zlatan."