BERLIN — Swedish coach Erik Hamren hailed his captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he led a fightback which netted four unanswered goals and a dramatic 4-4 draw with Germany in Tuesday's World Cup soccer qualifier.
Midfielder Rasmus Elm wrote himself into Swedish football folklore with the dramatic right-footed equaliser in the 93rd minute as Sweden came back from 4-0 down with an hour gone to claim a point at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
"(Ibrahimovic) is our captain and our best player. His goal was fantastic, but so was the pass he received," said Hamren, Ibrahimovic scoring the 62nd-minute header to spark the dramatic comeback.
"We needed it to get some energy and he showed the way for the rest of the team.
"When we got some momentum, the players lifted around him and gave him some more support.
"He put in a really good talk in the halftime break and he showed his class to me — he coached the other players as a good captain should do."
Joachim Loew's Germany had been cruising thanks to two early goals from Lazio's Miroslav Klose before Arsenal's Per Mertesacker, then Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil gave the hosts a comfortable lead.
But Hamren's side roared back as Ibrahimovic headed home before Celtic's Mikael Lustig, then Galatasary's Johan Elmander rattled the hosts before Elm produced the shock equaliser.
Germany remain top of Group C on 10 points with Sweden second on the table on seven, but with a game in hand.
This is the first time in the German Football Federation's 104-year history they have surrendered a four-goal lead and this was the first time in three years Germany have dropped points in a qualification match.
"To sum things up, the first 60 minutes were brilliant from us — the last 30 were incredibly weak," said Loew. "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." German captain Philipp Lahm admitted he was also struggling to explain what went wrong.
"At 4-1, you think, well it's only a goal, at 4-2 you get a little worried but, before you know it, it's a 4-4 draw," he said.
"We ticked the game off after it was 4-0, that is normal, but we let our concentration slip, made mistakes and lost our shape."