Zlatan Ibrahomvic scored a stunner on Tuesday as Sweden exited Euro 2012 in style with a 2-0 victory over France, who made the quarterfinals even though their unbeaten run ended after 23 games.
The AC Milan star volleyed home a cross in midair from 14m and Sebastian Larsson struck in stoppage time to award Sweden for a courageous effort in their successful bid to salvage pride before the flight home after defeats against England and Ukraine in group D.
France had to settle for second place in the group and now face a Saturday quarterfinal with European and world champions Spain.
England won the group with a 1-0 defeat of Ukraine in the other Tuesday game and play Italy on Sunday.
Ukraine were eliminated along with Sweden, who were already out of the race ahead of Tuesday’s group finale.
France coach Laurent Blanc replaced the scorers from Friday’s 2-0 over Ukraine, Yohan Cabaye and Jeremy Menez, with Yann M’Vila and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren replaced injured Rasmus Elm and Johan Elmander with Emir Bajrami and Ola Toivonen and the Scandinavians showed from the start that they were aiming true to the announcement of the captain Ibrahimovic that pride was at stake before the flight back home.
France got a first half-chance from Franck Ribery but Sweden then gained control with Toivonen hitting the outside of the post from a tight right angle after rounding goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following a big blunder from Philippe Mexes.
Karim Benzema tried his luck for a first tournament goal but the Real Madrid forward aimed high and wide in the 18th and 51st minutes.
The next seven minutes then saw Swedish fireworks with Lloris saving well from Larsson, substitute Christian Wilhelmsson and veteran Olof Mellberg.
But the period culminated in the 54th minute from Ibrahimovic’s goal of the tournament when he blasted home Larsson’s cross from the left.
France found no answer in the remaining half hour. Late substitute Olivier Giroud headed wide on his first touch in the 83rd before Larsson wrapped up matters by blasting into the roof of the net in stoppage time.
Les Bleus lost for the first time since September 2010 when they were ambushed 1-0 by Belarus, and for the first time against Sweden in a competitive game since 1969.
In addition, Mexes picked up a second yellow card of the tournament which makes him ineligible for the quarterfinal with Spain.