Top scorer Villa sinks Sweden in injury time (Lead)

June 15th, 2008 - 3:30 am ICT by IANS  

Innsbruck (Austria), June 15 (DPA) A late, late David Villa goal gave Spain a deserved 2-1 win over Sweden Saturday, and left them well out on top of Group D. The Valencia striker slipped through the weary Swedish defence in injury time and won the game with his fourth goal.

“A draw would have been really unfair since we had the best chances and they just wanted to get a draw,” Villa said.

Villa said that “having six points” was “much more important” than he being tournament top scorer.

Spain manager Luis Aragones said that “in football you have to suffer…The goal came late, but we had good chances before then.”

True to form, Aragones was annoyed with Sweden’s goal, saying that “it could have been avoided.”

Veteran Sweden striker Henrik Larsson said “it was really cruel to lose like that, right at the end.”

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres had Spain an early lead, only for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to equalize for Sweden before half-time.

Spain remain top of the group with six points from two games and will go through if Greece fail to beat Russia later in the evening.

Sweden have three points and will need to beat Russia in their final game to be sure of a place in the quarter-finals.

Spain went ahead with their first real attack, in the 15th minute.

Xavi Hernandez played a short corner for David Villa, who laid the ball back for David Silva. Silva’s centre was volleyed in by the stretching Torres, from just beyond the penalty spot.

Torres’ goal obliged Sweden to react, and they did so manfully - to the delight of the noisy Swedish fans in Innsbruck.

Two minutes later Johan Elmander wasted a good chance to equalize down the right.

In the 24th minute Carles Puyol limped off with a pulled muscle in his right thigh. The Spanish defence was crippled, and Sweden took advantage to make it 1-1 in the 34th minute.

Luis Aragones’ defence made a mess of an Elmander centre from the right. Ibrahimovic held off Sergio Ramos and scored with a soft low shot, when Iker Casillas could only push into the net.

Sweden manager Lars Lagerback surprisingly pulled off Ibrahimovic at the start of the second half, and Spain took control with their slick passing game.

In the 64th minute Andreas Isaksson bravely saved from Silva, then five minutes later from Marcos Senna.

Sweden seemed delighted to settle for a draw - and were close to achieving it.

But in the third minute of injury time, Petter Hansson failed to cut out a hopeful long ball down the left from Joan Capdevila. Villa calmly slipped the ball between Hansson and Olof Mellberg - and won the game with a precise low drive.

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