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German players in 'human rights' message before Iceland victory and Zlatan sets up winner on Sweden return

A 3-0 win for Germany over Iceland tonight.

Ilkay Gundogan netted for Germany while Zlatan celebrated a win for Sweden.
Ilkay Gundogan netted for Germany while Zlatan celebrated a win for Sweden.

GERMANY CRUISED TO a 3-0 win over Iceland on Thursday to get their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign off to a winning start after their players staged a pre-match demonstration for human rights.

The Germans lined up ahead of their match wearing T-shirts that spelled out “human rights” a day after Norway’s player took to the field wearing a similar slogan in protest of conditions for migrant workers building the stadiums in the finals’ host nation Qatar.

Once on the pitch in Duisburg Joachim Loew’s side raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening seven minutes through Leon Goretzka and Kai Havertz.

It was the first time in 52 years that Germany have led so early in a men’s international.

It was the perfect reaction after head coach Joachim Loew had demanded a strong display after a humiliating 6-0 thrashing by Spain last November.

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who has scored 16 goals in 34 games for Manchester City this season, then carried his scoring streak to national duty to net Germany’s second-half goal.

germany-iceland Germany players stand before the game. Source: DPA/PA Images

Germany had a scare before kick-off when midfielder Jonas Hofmann tested positive for Covid-19, but the game was allowed to go ahead after consultation with local authorities.

Bayern Munich’s 18-year-old midfielder Jamal Musiala came on to make his Germany debut for the final 12 minutes despite playing twice for England Under-21 last November.

Musiala, who has dual nationality, opted to play senior football for Germany and world football’s governing body FIFA sanctioned his switch.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic said it felt like his Sweden debut as he set up the decisive goal in his first international appearance in nearly five years with their 1-0 home win over Georgia in 2022 World Cup qualifying.

Ibrahimovic, 39, played his last Sweden game at Euro 2016 before wearing his country’s yellow shirt again for the 117th time in their Group B opener.

He fed Viktor Claesson in the first half to start the campaign with a victory in a group which also includes Spain, Greece and Kosovo, where they head this weekend.

“It felt good. It felt like it was my first international match. It was a lot of adrenaline,” Ibrahimovic told Sverige Radio.

“I think I could have done a lot more. But we won the match, and that is the most important thing,” he added.

Sweden’s record goalscorer made up a new-look strike partnership with 21-year-old Alexander Isak.

Former France defender Willy Sagnol took charge of the visitors for the first time and only four players kept their place from November’s draw with Estonia.

The home side dominated the opening half an hour in Stockholm and came close to breaking the deadlock after 25 minutes.

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Winger Claesson found Isak in the box but the Real Sociedad attacker’s weak effort was parried away with ease by Giorgi Loria.

Ibrahimovic’s first half moment of magic came 10 minutes later.

He chested the ball in the box before playing a delicate touch to Claesson who volleyed home to make it 1-0 with his second international goal in as many games.

AC Milan star Ibrahimovic had a chance to add to his 62 goals for the national team six minutes from the interval but his limp shot dribbled past the post.

Ibrahimovic’s return came to an end on 84 minutes as he left the field for Mainz striker Robin Quaison and Andersson’s side held on for three points.

Sweden next travel to Kosovo on Sunday as Georgia host Spain earlier in the day.

© – AFP, 2021

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