Ireland impress, but forced to settle for a draw against Sweden

Wes Hoolahan scored to give Ireland the lead before Ciaran Clark headed into his own net

Ireland impress, but forced to settle for a draw against Sweden

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Ireland had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Sweden at the Stade de France.

Wes Hoolahan gave the Boys in Green a 48th minute lead but a Ciaran Clark own goal saw Sweden equalise in the Euro 2016 Group E opener.

After an opening in which both sides probed without laying a glove on the opposition defence, Jeff Hendrick had the first meaningful effort on goal.

He fired a shot at goal from just inside the box, forcing Andreas Isaksson to push it out for a corner on 9 minutes.

On 16 minutes, John O'Shea came closest to breaking the deadlock when a corner drifted towards him. Unfortunately, the defender was unable to get a toe on the ball and turn it into the back of the net. 

Sweden got more of a foothold on the game in terms of possession after the 20th minute mark without testing Ireland greatly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic operated very deep.

Ireland’s Robbie Brady attempts a shot ©INPHO/Tommy Grealy

The Boys in Green came close again though on 29 minutes when Robbie Brady cut in onto his right foot and had a crack at goal which just went over the bar, ruffling the top of the net on its way.

Three minutes later, Ireland came even closer three minutes later through Hendrick who had an attempt from range.

It appeared to be going in but unfortunately fate took it onto the crossbar.

With the lion' share of chances falling Ireland's way, Shane Long just failed to get his head onto an excellent Brady delivery from the left flank.

With no goals by half-time, the second half started with another Ireland chance as Hendrick fired a low shot from range which Isaksson save.

But Ireland finally made all their hard work and intense performance pay off as clever work from Seamus Coleman down the right saw the Everton full-back cross and find Hoolahan in acres of space.

Ireland's Wes Hoolahan celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with Glenn Whelan ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

The playmaker showed consummate composure to strike a first time shot into the back of the net to put Ireland 1-0 up.

Sweden rallied immediately with Ciaran Clark first clearing a shot over the bar and Darren Randolph making an excellent reflex save to an attempt which diverted towards his goal.

Ibrahimovic struggled to get clear cut chances as he pushed further up the field, although he did turn one Martin Olsson cross just wide of the near post.

He did create Sweden's 71st minute equaliser though as he got down the left side and put a cross in. Clark, who had otherwise faced down most of the Swedish attacks, attempted to cut it out but unfortunately put the ball into his own net in the process.

That goal actually sparked an improvement for Martin O'Neill's side as the Boys in Green rallied again at an atmospheric Stade de France, as both sides exchanged opportunities, with Sweden continuously threatening down the left.

But neither side could find a winner as they settled for a draw.