It seems possible that Euro 2016 may yet be graced by Zlatan Ibrahimovic after all.
The enigmatic striker was quoted by the Daily Mail in October as saying that it would be “unthinkable” for next summer’s showpiece to go ahead without him after Sweden finished third in Group G.
But his powerful penalty in this evening’s qualifying playoff first leg against Denmark helped the Swedes gain a 2-1 lead over their Scandinavian rivals and move a step closer to the finals in France.
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Emil Forsberg’s first international goal on the stroke of half time had already given Sweden the lead, although Denmark replied late on through Nicolai Jorgensen to ensure the tie remained tight.
Ukraine are in an even stronger position after their first leg with Slovenia, who could not manage a single shot on target in Lviv as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to the tournament co-hosts from 2012.
Andriy Yarmelenko capitalised on a mistake from goalkeeper Samir Handanovic to give Ukraine a 22nd-minute advantage, and Yevhen Seleznyov increased Ukraine’s cushion with this close-range finish.
The reverse fixtures will take place on Tuesday. In the other Euro 2016 playoffs, the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina are level at 1-1, and Hungary lead Norway 1-0 after the away leg.
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