Ireland have drawn with Sweden 1-1, after Wes Hoolahan’s stunner second half goal was canceled out by an own goal from Ciaran Clark.
In 2012 Ireland were the worst performing team at the Euros, only scoring one goal. They have already cancelled out any doubts, with a positive performance against Sweden.
Sweden began with all the spark, as the ascendancy was theirs in the opening minutes, out-hustling the Irish at their own game.
Martin Olsson’s speed down the left hand side was causing all sorts of problems for the Irish, as the Swedes opted to play a high defensive line.
The Irish strategy was simple, play long balls into Walters and Long to break the high Swedish line.
Their tactic seemed to work, as Jeff Hendrick almost put The Boys in Green ahead.
Norwich winger Robbie Brady was a speedy Gonzales on the left proving to be a menace of his own for the Swedish back four.
This game had the potential to boil over after some big tackles by both sides set the tone early.
Ireland should have been up 1-0 in the 17th minute, after Clark’s header to the back post found O’Shea who failed to find boot to ball in front of an open goal.
Robbie Brady then came close with a rocket outside of the box that just scrapped the top of the goal. Surprisingly enough, there was no sign of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Shots were flying in from the Irish, this time it was Jeff Hendrick who sent another wicked curling shot from 30 yards into the crossbar.
The green wall of Irish fans were about to blow the roof off, clearly spurring on their team as the 12th man.
Like most of the group games so far at the Euros, goals have been hard to come by and this game was evident of that trend.
The Irish persistence broke through, as Coleman played a ball to Wes Hoolahan in the box. Hoolahan hit the ball on the sweet spot from a half volley, giving his side a crucial goal in the second half.
Zlatan was struggling, and it clearly had an effect on his side, as the tall marksman looked like a distant figure of his usual self.
Just when you say the word, the world class striker pops up again! Ibrahimovic intelligently played a deadly ball from the by-line into the head of Ciaran Clark. Just like that, the Swedes were back level thanks to their marquee man Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
— Ari Charilaou (@Ari_Charilaou) June 13, 2016
With 10 minutes left it was all or nothing. The level had gone up another notch from both sets of supporters and the players.
With Belgium and Italy still to come, both teams desperately needed the three points from this game.
Both teams gave it everything but couldn’t be separated as the score finish 1-1.
Stay tuned for our full video production of today’s pre-game with the Irish and Swedish fans.