International update


Four in action in latest round of fixtures.

Seb Larsson’s Sweden took a step closer to securing their place in the World Cup European Qualifying play-offs with a 1-0 victory in Kazakhstan.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the game’s only goal in the first minute as Black Cats midfielder Larsson played an hour in Astana.

The Swedes could yet qualify automatically but they’ll have to beat both Germany and Austria in their final two fixtures and also hope the Germans lose to Ireland.

Elsewhere, Emanuele Giaccherini played 45 minutes for Italy as Cesare Prandelli’s side ensured their safe passage to the World Cup finals with a 2-1 victory over Czech Republic in Torino.

Libor Kozak had given the visitors a half-time lead but goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Balotelli earned the hosts the win before Daniel Kolar was dismissed for the Czechs.

Meanwhile, John O’Shea played 49 minutes for the Republic of Ireland as Giovanni Trapattoni’s side lost 1-0 in Austria.

The defeat all-but ends any qualification hopes the Irish had prior to the match in Vienna as David Alaba’s strike, six minutes from time, earned the hosts the win.

David Vaughan was also in action as he played the final half hour of Wales’ 3-0 defeat in Serbia.

The defeat leave Chris Coleman’s side bottom of Group A ahead of the final round of fixtures next month.