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Austria dashes Sweden’s Euro 2016 hopes

In a surprise upset, Austria defeated Sweden 4:1 in an historic game, confirming their place in the European Championship in France in 2016.

Austria dashes Sweden's Euro 2016 hopes
Photo: UEFA Austria Team

Sweden has been dogged by injury worries, with captain Zlatan Ibrahimovich almost sidelined with an abductor problem.

The match was a case of Winner Takes It All in the land of Abba, as Austria concludes an unprecedented run of seven wins under Swiss coach Marcel Koller, whose usual Swiss aplomb was cast aside in hugs for the winning team.

Swedish efficiency was overwhelmed by the Austrian game, who schooled the northerners in their own capital of Stockholm at the Friends Stadium.

Bayern Munich's David Alaba, the youngest player to ever play for Austria at 17 in 2009, scored from the penalty spot after just nine minutes before West German-born Martin Harnik plundered his 12th international goal seven minutes before half-time with a header to give the visitors a cushion.

Veteran Basel striker Marc Janko, 34, then put the icing on the cake and started the early celebrations with Austria's third on 79 minutes before Harnik grabbed his second of the night with two minutes remaining to add insult to injury for the Swedes.

Swedish captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a late consolation goal in vain for the hosts.

The 33-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker came off at half-time in Sweden's Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Russia in Moscow, complaining of an apparent abdominal injury and was only confirmed as a player for the national side on Tuesday morning.

Swedish coach Erik Hamren opted to revert to a 4-4-2 formation after unsuccessfully trying out 4-5-1 in the Russia defeat.

On Tuesday Russia dispatched Liechtenstein 7-0 to move into the second qualifying spot, twopoints in front of the Scandinavians, in Group G.

In the pool's third match Montenegro won 2-0 on the road at Moldova as they climbed within a point of Sweden and a potential place in the play-offs with two matches to play.

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FOOTBALL

Austria investigates football chief for alleged corruption

Austrian prosecutors said Wednesday they are investigating the national football federation head over a payment made at the time of the disgraced Sepp Blatter's re-election as Fifa president in 2015.

Austria investigates football chief for alleged corruption
In this 2009 image Austrian football federation president Leo Windtner (L) takes part in the presentation of Austria's then new national team football coach Dietmar "Didi" Constantini. Photo: AFP

“We are investigating because of the suspicion of breach of trust and corruption,” the public prosecution office for economic and corruption affairs (WKStA) said.

The $100,000 (€84,000) transfer was made by Fifa, the world governing body, to a project supporting young footballers in Africa at the beginning of 2015.

The patron of this project was none other than the wife of the head of the Austrian Football Federation (ÖFB), Leo Windtner.

According to two Austrian websites, Addendum and 90minuten.at, the funds were approved just after Windtner had said in an interview that he supported Blatter serving another term.

The money was initially wired to the ÖFB, which returned it to Fifa, saying it was not involved in the African project. Fifa then transferred it directly to the project's account.

Windtner, 67, said on Wednesday that he would make a statement to prosecutors in the coming days and that he was “relaxed” about the probe.

“I didn't give Blatter any promise or undertaking,” Windtner said. “Everything was transparent and every cent accounted for. I have nothing to reproach myself for.”

He conceded that the money was at first wrongly transferred to the ÖFB and not to the African project, “but that was no fault of mine”.

In the end, the ÖFB supported Blatter's rival for the Fifa presidency, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

Blatter won re-election but amid swirling corruption allegations the Swiss was later banned from soccer for making an improper payment to then-Uefa chief Michel Platini.