World Cup qualifiers: Sweden fightback stuns Germany.Sweden staged an extraordinary comeback in their World Cup qualifier with Germany, fighting back from 4-0 down with 30 minutes left to draw 4-4. Spain’s run of 24 qualifying wins was halted by France on Tuesday, while Germany spectacularly collapsed to let Sweden come back from a four-goal deficit to draw 4-4 in the campaign to reach the 2014 World Cup.
It was also a frustrating night for Cristiano Ronaldo as his 100th Portugal appearance ended in a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland.
England didn’t even get a chance to play as a waterlogged pitch in Warsaw caused the match against Poland to be postponed to Wednesday.
World and European champion Spain led through Sergio Ramos’ header, but Cesc Fabregas had a penalty saved before Olivier Giroud clinched a 1-1 draw for France in the last attack.
Sergio Ramos had put Spain ahead from a Xavi corner in the first half.
The world and European champions had missed a chance to extend their lead when France keeper Hugo Lloris saved a Cesc Fabregas penalty just before half-time.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mikael Lustig and Johan Elmander scored in the space of 14 minutes, before Elm’s opportunistic strike completed an unlikely fightback.
“It was still a strange feeling in the dressing room, it’s not every day on the international stage that you come back for a 4-4 draw having been 4-0 down,” Sweden boss Erik Hamren said.
“To come to Germany and get a point against one of the best teams in the world is incredible. It is something historical, I am very proud of my team and the way they reacted.”
Germany boss Joachim Loew described a very different mood in his camp, and said he was left stunned by his side’s uncharacteristic collapse.
“To sum things up, the first 60 minutes were brilliant from us, the last 30 were incredibly weak,” Loew said.
“Honestly, shortly after the game I can find no explanation as to how we let a 4-0 lead slip out of our hands. It’s deathly quiet in the changing room. Players are laid out on the benches and are totally speechless.”
The Netherlands and Russia are now the only European nations to hold perfect winning records in this qualifying campaign.
The Dutch clinched an impressive away win over Romania, who had been their nearest rivals in Group D, with Robin van Persie’s late goal rounding off a 4-1 victory in Bucharest.
But Fabio Capello’s Russia needed a late penalty to see off Azerbaijan in Group F despite dominating their match in Moscow.Germany had been rampant against Sweden, storming to a 4-0 lead by the 55th minute, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic began Sweden’s comeback seven minutes later and Rasmus Elm netted an unexpected equalizer in stoppage time.
Italy, meanwhile, beat Denmark 3-1 despite playing most of the second half with 10 men, and the Netherlands maintained its perfect qualifying start with a 4-1 victory over Romania.
At Madrid, Spain was on the verge of closing out a 25th consecutive win in qualifying stretching back to 2007.
But in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Juanfran Torres gave away possession in midfield. Franck Ribery crossed to Giroud, who headed beyond goalkeeper Iker Casillas to cancel out Ramos’ 25th-minute goal.
“If I had just kicked the ball off the field there, the game would have ended there,” Torres said.
Spain is now only ahead of France on goal difference in Group I, with Belarus three points behind after beating Georgia 2-0.
In Berlin, Sweden coach Erik Hamren was celebrating an “historical” comeback that had seemed implausible as Germany ripped through his team in the first half.
Miroslav Klose scored in the eighth and 15th minutes, Per Mertesacker added another in the 39th and Mesut Oezil made it 4-0 in the 56th.
Ibrahimovic triggered the comeback and Mikael Lustig and Johan Elmander scored in the second half before Elm secured a valuable competition point with a goal two minutes into injury time.
Germany still has a three-point lead in Group C over Sweden, which has played one fewer game.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “Normally, we would not waste a four-goal lead. The problem seems to have been mental after 60 minutes.
Rasmus Elm scored Sweden’s equaliser in Berlin in the 93rd minute, ending Germany’s 100% record in Group C.
Spain were also denied victory by a stoppage-time goal, with a 94th-minute header by Olivier Giroud in Madrid rescuing a point for France in Group I.