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Swedes stun Germans

Shock as Löw’s men surrender four-goal lead

Germany suffered their first setback in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after inexplicably surrendering a four-goal lead at home to Sweden in Berlin. The home side were cruising after a superb first 60 minutes, but conceded four goals in an astonishing finish to the match. The improbable draw means Germany stay top of Group C on ten points, but the Scandinavians are only three points back with a game in hand.

The 72,369 sell-out crowd at the Olympic Stadium in the capital saw Miroslav Klose advance to 67 goals for his country with a brace on eight and 15 minutes. Per Mertesacker made it three after 39 minutes and Mezut Ozil appeared to have wrapped it up with the fourth after 56 minutes. But superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic launched the fightback after 62 minutes, and further goals from Mikael Lustig 120 seconds later, veteran Johan Elmander on 76 minutes, and a Rasmus Elm equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time earned an unlikely point for the men in yellow.

Lahm: We fell to pieces

“Something's gone wrong if you're leading 4-0 but it ends 4-4. We let in one goal and then another straight away, and we fell to pieces. That can't be happening to a top team," commented captain Philipp Lahm, who returned to the starting line-up after suspension, joining up with the other six Bayern men in the Germany squad. “Obviously it's not something you can explain. I've never been through anything like that," remarked Bastian Schweinsteiger, “we've only taken a point even though we led 4-0, and that should never be happening. It's disappointing."

The Germans roared off the blocks and Thomas Müller might have scored twice after just two minutes, but was initially denied by the keeper and then the outside of the post. Former Munich striker Klose showed how it should be done with the opening brace, his 14th double strike for his country, with both goals on the night from Marco Reus assists.

Zlatan overwhelmed

Joachim Löw's side now played some sparkling football, with Mertesacker guiding home the third before half-time. There was initially no change after the break as Müller and Schweinsteiger both came close, before Ozil cracked home the fourth before the hour.

However, Löw's men evidently felt too sure of victory and suddenly lost the plot. Ibrahimovic and Lustig cut the deficit in short order, and the commendably robust and determined Scandinavians seized the chance of a sensational comeback, finally accomplished by Elmander and Elm. “That's one of the greatest things I've ever experienced as a player," Paris St Germain star Ibrahimovic declared afterwards. Toni Kroos was in appropriately critical mood: “That can't be happening to a team like us. There can be no excuses."