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Zlatan Who? Sweden Striker Scores With An Outrageous Chip Against The Netherlands

Having lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kim Kallstrom and their manager Erik Hamren after Euro 2016, Sweden still managed to draw with the Netherlands in Stockholm. 

For the Netherlands, their only possible excuse is that they’re now terrible. With nine more qualifying matches still to play, the Dutch have time to improve, it’s just difficult to foresee where that improvement will come from. 

It was another damning performance from the Dutch when compared to their abilities in 2010 and 2014, their manager Danny Blind edging ever closer to an acrimonious dismissal. In a group with France, Sweden and Bulgaria, a solitary point here means they have little room for error over the next year.

Credit where credit is due, the Netherlands did play an organized first half in Sweden. They carved out two or three good opportunities, but they inexplicably capitulated in the 43rd minute.

Kevin Strootman, one of the few world-class players the Dutch can still call upon, took possession of the ball at the top of his own box. Instead of attempting a pass or clearance, he did nothing but cough up the ball to Sweden striker Marcus Berg.

From there, Berg conjured up a piece of magic that was reminiscent of the great Ibrahimovic. His lob from 18 yards out left goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet no chance.

The Netherlands best work in the second half came through right-back Daryl Janmaat. The defender got forward with abandon, his 67th minute shot requiring a parry from Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

Unfortunately for Sweden, the rebound fell right into the path of veteran attacker Wesley Sneijder. He cooly finished the chance to level the match.

In a match clearly lacking the individual star power that both of these teams used to possess, a draw was probably a fair result. 

The Netherlands did come close to grabbing a winner, they even had a goal disallowed for a foul, but both teams will move forward relieved at not having been defeated in their opening World Cup qualifying match.

Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming

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