STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one goal and made another in a slick first-half performance as Sweden beat Iran 3-1 in a friendly in Stockholm, where the vast majority of the 33,773 crowd at the Friends Arena were cheering for the away team.
Sweden is home to more than 60,000 people who were born in Iran, and together with their children and grandchildren they packed the stands, outnumbering the Sweden fans and creating a cascading wall of noise for much of the match.
Ibrahimovic silenced them, albeit temporarily, when he gave Sweden the lead in the 11th minute.
His clever pass found Erkan Zengin, whose chipped return was powerfully headed home by the Sweden captain at the far post, despite the best efforts of Iran goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi to keep it out.
Zlatan turned provider 10 minutes later, heading Pierre Bengtsson’s cross from the left back into the path of Marcus Berg, who swept home a deft first-time finish.
Minutes later the huge contingent of Iranian fans roared in delight as their team reduced the deficit via a penalty, with captain Javad Nekounam thumping home the spot kick after Vahid Amiri was brought down in the box by Andreas Granqvist.
Reza Ghoochannejhad came close to equalising early in the second half, bundling the ball past goalkeeper Robin Olsen only to see it come back off the foot of the post.
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz urged his charges on from the edge of the technical area, but Ola Toivonen put an end to their hopes with a towering header from Sebastian Larsson’s cross just before fulltime.
Reporting By Philip O’Connor; editing by Toby Davis
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