Swedes hit by Larsson spot woe

PLEDGE ... Seb Larsson.
PLEDGE ... Seb Larsson.
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SUNDERLAND midfielder Seb Larsson had a penalty saved as Sweden had to settle for a 1-1 Euro 2016 qualifying draw at home to Russia last night.

Larsson stepped up to the spot in the 13th minute, after Igor Smolnikov felled Jimmy Durmaz in the box, but the Black Cats man’s spot-kick was saved by Igor Akinfeev.

That capped Sweden’s frustrating night, as they have now drawn their opening two matches.

Sweden were without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, but Ola Toivanen deputised well and swept home an equaliser early in the second half to cancel out Aleksandr Kokorin’s opener.

In the same pool, Austria beat Moldova 2-1 in Chisinau, thanks to David Alaba’s penalty and a Marc Janko strike.

European champions Spain suffered their first qualifying defeat in 37 games, going down 2-1 to Slovakia in Group C, with Miroslav Stoch’s dramatic 87th-minute winner doing the damage.

Substitute Paco Alcacer looked to have claimed a draw for a frustrated Spanish side when he struck eight minutes from time, cancelling out a swerving early free-kick from Juraj Kucka which had deceived Iker Casillas.