Sweden begin preparation with win

Goteborg, May 27:

Tobias Linderoth scored just before halftime to give Sweden a 1-0 win over Slovenia on Monday, the first of the Scandinavians’ two friendly preparation matches ahead of the European Championship.

In Eeutlingen, Germany, striker Radoslaw Matusiak converted a late penalty to rally Poland to a 1-1 draw with Macedonia Veteran striker Henrik Larsson missed two chances to double the score as he returned to the national team after retiring from international play in 2006. The Swedes play Ukraine in another friendly on Sunday before leaving for Euro 2008, where they are scheduled to face Spain, Russia and defending champions Greece in Group D.

After a sluggish start, the Swedes took control of the match but failed to create any clear chances until Linderoth scored in the 41st minute.

The Galatasaray midfielder took a backheel pass from Christian Wilhemsson and powered his way past the Slovenian defense to push the ball over the line.

The hosts increased the pressure after the break as Henrik Larsson and Johan Elmander came off the bench to add speed and energy to Sweden’s attack.

Larsson was left unmarked in front of Slovenia’s goal in the 52nd but headed over the bar on Mikael Nilsson’s cross.

Sweden coach Lars Lagerback rested some of his top players — Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Markus Rosenberg and team captain Fredrik Ljungberg — who are recovering from injuries.

In Eeutlingen, Poland coach Leo Beenhakker sat the vast majority of his regulars and used the friendly match to look at younger players vying for a spot on the final 23-man squad for the June 7-29 tournament.

Poland play another tuneup match against Albania on Tuesday in Reutlingen and then against Denmark on June 1 in Poland before leaving for the Euro 2008, where they play Germany, Croatia and co-hosts Austria in Group B.

Goran Maznov scored for Macedonia in the 45th minute. Poland keeper Tomasz Kuszczak pushed Goce Sedloski’s low drive off a free kick from 25 yards to the feet of the unmarked Maznov, who tapped the ball into the net.

Goran Pandev should have doubled the score for Macedonia just after halftime, collecting a through ball and rushing in on goal unmarked. But Kuszczak charged and kicked Pandev’s left-footed shot wide.

Matusiak equalised for Poland in the 84th minute after an Igor Mitreski handball. Dariusz Dudka almost scored five minutes later, but Macedonia keeper Petar Milosevski punched the Poland midfielder’s right-footed drive over the bar.