World Cup qualifiers
BERLIN – Sweden scored four unanswered second-half goals to seal a dramatic 4-4 draw with Germany in today’s World Cup qualifier at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium with the equaliser arriving in the 93rd minute.
Midfielder Rasmus Elm wrote himself into Swedish football folklore with the dramatic right-footed equaliser as Sweden came back from 4-0 down with an hour gone to claim a point at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
Joachim Loew’s Germany had been cruising thanks to two early goals from Miroslav Klose before Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker, then Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil gave the hosts a comfortable lead.
But Erik Hamren’s side fought back in impressive style as Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed home before Celtic’s Mikael Lustig, then Galatasary’s Johan Elmander rattled the hosts and then Elm produced his shock equaliser.
Germany remain top of Group C with Sweden second in the table.
The hosts’ opening goal came after just eight minutes as captain Philipp Lahm attacked down the left wing and fed Marco Reus to square for Lazio’s Klose who fired past Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.
It was Klose’s 66th goal on his 126th appearance having been honoured before kick-off with a fair play award for honesty having had a goal he scored for Lazio last month in the Italian league cancelled after admitting he touched the ball.
Meanwhile Mario Balotelli scored and produced a powerful display on his international return to help 10-man Italy beat Denmark 3-1 in their World Cup Group B qualifier in Milan.
The Manchester City striker’s first Italy goal since his Euro 2012 semi-final brace against Germany and strikes from midfielders Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi enabled Cesare Prandelli’s side to overcome the sending-off of Pablo Osvaldo early in the second half.
Italy took the lead after 33 minutes, Riccardo Montolivo finishing off a slick passing move by collecting Balotelli’s flick before drilling a long-range effort past stationary Denmark keeper Stephan Andersen.
They doubled their lead four minutes later when Andrea Pirlo left Michael Silderbauer for dead before swinging in a teasing cross from the right that De Rossi nodded in from six yards.
Morten Olsen’s Denmark side looked dead and buried but pulled a goal back with the last kick of the first half, William Kvist side-footing home a superb volley from a deflected Lars Jacobsen cross from the edge of the area.
The Danes were given another lifeline when Osvaldo was sent off 16 seconds into the second half after tussling with Nicolai Stokholm and lashing out with his left arm, catching the midfielder in the face in full view of referee Damir Skomina.
However, Balotelli restored his team’s two-goal lead with 54 minutes gone, springing the offside trap and poking another magical Pirlo pass past the onrushing Andersen to seal the three points.Italy now have 10 points, four clear of Bulgaria at the top of Group B. Denmark, on two points, are facing elimination in the face after only three games.