SWEDEN'S World Cup hopes were given a dramatic boost last night when Freddie Ljungberg scored with a minute to go against Paraguay. The Swedes dominated possession throughout the 90 minutes but had to wait until the dying moments to take all three points. They now go into next week's game with England knowing they will top the group with a victory.
Kim Kallstrom was picked to start for Sweden after only being a substitute for the goalless draw against Trinidad and Tobago. Coach Lars Lagerback had been under pressure to include the Rennes midfielder, who came in for Anders Svensson. The only other change was first-choice keeper Andreas Isaksson returning after missing the opening game with concussion.
Paraguay coach Anibal Ruiz also made two changes from the team that lost narrowly to England. Goalkeeper Aldo Bobadilla replaced the injured Justo Villar, while Jorge Nunez came in for Delio Toledo in defence.
Freddie Ljungberg's first run opened up the Paraguay defence but the Arsenal midfielder was halted in his tracks by a cynical Denis Caniza tackle that earned the Paraguay defender a yellow card. Sweden looked fired up and Kallstrom's surging run soon after earned him a free-kick on the edge of the box but his shot hit the wall.
Kallstrom then struck a fantastic left-footed shot from 25 yards after picking up Zlatan Ibrahimovic's chested pass but Bobadilla pulled off a tremendous diving save. The Swedes continued to press, with Kallstrom at the heart of their attacking moves, and Christian Wilhelmsson fired inches wide after being set up by Henrik Larsson.
After 32 minutes Paraguay finally created a decent chance but Roque Santa Cruz snatched at his shot from the edge of the box and watched the ball fly wide. His strike partner Nelson Valdez then tried his luck but was no closer with a wild volley. At the other end Larsson nipped in to threaten with a header, but it went straight into the arms of Bobadilla.
Ibrahimovic continued his wastefulness with a feeble finish after being presented with a decent opportunity inside the Paraguay penalty box, and it was no surprise when he was substituted at the break, with Marcus Allback, once of Aston Villa, coming on in his place.
But it was Ljungberg who grabbed the winner, the Arsenal player heading home from around eight yards.
Sweden: Isaksson, Lucic, Mellberg, Linderoth, Edman, Ljungberg, Alexandersson, Kallstrom, Wilhelmsson, Ibrahimovic, Larsson. Subs: Allback, Alvbage, Andersson, Elmander, Hansson, Jonson, Nilsson, Rosenberg, Shaaban, Stenman, Anders Svensson, Karl Svensson.
Paraguay: Bobadilla, Gamarra, Nunez, Caceres, Caniza, Bonet, Acuna, Paredes, Riveros, Santa Cruz, Valdez. Subs: Barreto, Cabanas, Cuevas, Da Silva, Dos Santos, Gavilan, Gomez, Lopez, Manzur, Montiel, Toledo, Villar.