Sweden produced a devastating display of attacking football to hammer Bulgaria 5-0 in their opening Group C game in Lisbon.

The result somewhat flattered the Swedes, for whom the returning Henrik Larsson scored twice, but there was no denying the quality of their finishing against a spirited but ultimately outclassed Bulgarian team.

The early action gave no indication of the rout to come with Bulgaria more than holding their own against a hesitant Swedish side.

The first goal mouth incident came when Berbatov fell theatrically in the Swedish penalty area, but his appeal for a penalty fell on deaf ears as the referee waved play on.

Bulgaria seemed undaunted by the fact they were playing their first match at a major tournament in six years and on 16 minutes their endeavour was nearly rewarded when Martin Petrov hared down the left touchline and found Yankovich whose volleyed effort went just wide.

Another chance fell to Bulgaria five minutes later when Berbatov out jumped his marker and only a fingertip save from Isaksson prevented the opening goal.

Sweden, who had relied mainly on the long ball game, looked in danger of being outpassed by the enterprising Bulgarians. So it came as something of a surprise when they went ahead on 32 minutes. Ibrahimovic sprung the offside trap and bore down on the Bulgarian goal before drawing the keeper Zdrakov and squaring the ball towards Ljungberg who had the easy task of prodding the ball into the unguarded net.

Bulgaria emerged from the half-time break with renewed intent and could have levelled the scores on 48 minutes when Yankovich headed inches wide. Two minutes later, Petrov took advantage of sloppy Swedish marking to burst into the penalty area from a quickly taken free kick, but his curling effort went wide.

However, just when it seemed as if parity was about to be restored, Sweden struck a devastating blow. A quick break down the left found Edman whose superb cross was greeted by the returning hero Larsson diving at full length to power the ball into the net.

Larsoon, who was the subject of a public campaign for him to end his international retirement, raced to the touchline to receive the adulation of the Swedish supporters.

A minute later, the same player was on hand again to add a third for Sweden as his outstretched leg met Nilsson’s cross.

At 3-0 the game as a contest was over and the visibly demoralised Bulgarians, who had looked competitive until Larsson’s double strike, were playing for pride alone.

It was to get much worse for Plamen Markov’s men. Imbrahimovich should have made it four on the hour but the Ajax striker miscued his header. However, Ibrahimovic was to make amends with 12 minutes remaining when he scored from the penalty spot after Ivanov was adjudged to have brought down Ljungberg.

Larsson set up a fifth for substitute Allback and the rout was complete.

Bulgaria will play worse than this and not concede five, while Sweden, who were perhaps flattered by the margin of victory, now look a good bet to reach the quarter finals.

Italy, who were distinctly unimpressive in their goalless draw with Denmark earlier today, meet Sweden on Friday; on this form, they will not relish the prospect.

Group C

Sweden 5-0 Bulgaria


– Denmark -Fredrik Ljungberg 32, Henrik Larsson 57, 58, Zlatan Ibrahimovic 78pen, Marcus Allback 90+1

Halftime: 1-0


France:1-Andreas Isaksson; 2-Teddy Lucic (21-Christian Wilhelmsson 41), 3-Olof Mellberg (captain), 15-Andreas Jakobsson, 5-Erik Edman; 7-Mikael Nilsson, 6-Tobias Linderoth, 8-Anders Svensson (16-Kim Kallstrom 77), 9-Fredrik Ljungberg; 10-Zlatan Ibrahimovic (20-Marcus Allback 81), 11-Henrik Larsson.

England:Bulgaria (4-4-1-1): 1-Zdravko Zdravkov; 2-Vladimir Ivanov, 18-Predrag Pazhin, 3-Rosen Kirilov, 4-Ivailo Petkov; 13-Georgi Peev, 15-Marian Hristov, 19-Stilian Petrov (captain), 17-Martin Petrov (11-Zdravko Lazarov 84); 21-Zoran Jankovic (10-Velizar Dimitrov 62); 9-Dimitar Berbatov (16-Vladimir Manchev 76).

Referee: Mike Riley (England)