Ibrahimovic leaves it late to save Swedes

Ibrahimovic leaves it late to save Swedes

Ibrahimovic leaves it late to save Swedes
By Reuters

21/08/2002 at 21:53Updated

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an injury-time equaliser to earn his country a 1-1 friendly draw in Moscow on Wednesday, spoiling what would have been a winning start for new Russia coach Valery Gazzayev.

Zenit St Petersburg striker Alexander Kerzhakov – the Russian league's leading scorer this season - had put the hosts ahead in the 56th minute when he beat Magnus Hedman with a point-blank header after the Swedish goalkeeper fumbled Andrei Karyaka's shot from the edge of the box.

Gazzayev, in charge for the first time after he replaced Oleg Romantsev last month following Russia's dismal World Cup showing, will have been generally pleased with his side's showing.

Sweden, who were missing Barcelona defender Patrik Andersson, Arsenal midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg and Aston Villa striker Marcus Allback with injuries, created little trouble for the Russian defence until Ajax striker Ibrahimovic struck in the final minute of stoppage time.

Before the game, the Russians honoured their long-serving captain Viktor Onopko, who was presented with a new $85,000 Porsche 911 in a sentimental ceremony attended by UEFA President Lennart Johansson.

Onopko, who turns 33 in two months, won his 100th international cap in a 3-2 defeat to Belgium on June 14 as his team crashed out of the World Cup in the first round.

Wednesday's game, the final warm-up for both teams before they begin their European championship qualifying campaigns, was played amid tight security after a blast destroyed a five-story apartment building in Moscow the previous night.

In Euro 2004 qualifying, Russia open at home to the Republic of Ireland on September 7, while, Sweden, who lost in the second of the World Cup to Senegal, travel to Riga to face Latvia on the same day.

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