Sweden Held Goalless In Tirana

Albania 0-0 Sweden

Sweden got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a rather stuttering start with a 0-0 draw away to Albania in Tirana.

Traditional tournament team Sweden found the going tough in Tirana as a solid Albania side held them to a goalless draw inside the Qemal Stafa Stadium.  

Despite having established stars such as Henrik Larsson (winning his 100th cap as captain), Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kim Kallstrom in their starting line-up, the Scandinavians were unable to find a way past Albanian keeper Beqaj.  

Lars Lagerbeck’s side were hit with an early injury blow which saw Tobias Linderoth limp off after only six minutes.  Sebastian Larsson came on to replace him.   Overall the Swedes were the dominant force in the game but were made to rue not putting the ball in the back of the net.

Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck the post as early as the 17th minute and was also denied by the Albanian keeper again in the 58th minute. 

They tried to up the tempo in the second period and Olof Mellberg went closest with an effort after 63 minutes, but his shot went narrowly wide. 

The draw meant that new Albanian trainer Arie Haan kept up his impressive record of never having lost his first game in charge of any national team he has coached.

Albania: Beqaj, Lala, Dallku, Curri, Bakaj, Skela (Agolli 84), Salihi (Berisha 75), Hyka, Duro, Vangjeli, Cana  

Sweden: Isaksson, Andersson, Majstorovic, Mellberg, Hansson, Wendt (Stoor 78), Nilsson, Kallstrom (Holmen 84), Linderoth (S. Larsson 6) H. Larsson, Ibrahimovic  

Mathew Burt