The streets of Paris were a sea of green (Estimated 75,000 fans) today as Irish fans flooded in ahead of the Irish Republic opening match at the Stade de France for their first Euro 2016 Group E encounter with Sweden.
Irish Manager Martin O’Neill, true to his earlier promise, had instructed his team to get on the ball against their opponents and this they did. Indeed it was impossible to truly criticise any tactical decisions or substitutions made by Irish management and players whom so nearly delivered a famous victory.
Ireland, confidently, dominated the first half, creating several chances; closest being a curling right-footed effort onto the Swedish crossbar, courtesy of Jeff Hendrick. Despite the Republic’s dominance however it was not until three minutes into the second half that, from ten yards out, Wes Hoolahan rifled home the first score of the match, sending already elated green supporters into ecstatics.
But alas, Irish followers were to be soon disenchanted by an Zlatan Ibrahimovic attempt to come from behind, which forced an unfortunate Ciaran Clark own goal, thus denying the Republic’s team three deserved points.
Not a bad performance from Tipperary’s Shane Long today, but most certainly Sweden had sworn a pact that he should remain the least threat around the goal area, especially following his clever pass to set up Jeff Hendrick, latter who drilled his shot against the crossbar, around the half-hour mark.
Despite Sweden’s pressure appearing to grow and the introduction of substitutes James McClean, Robbie Keane and Aiden McGeady; for Jonathan Walters, Wes Hoolahan and James McCarthy, both sides, after 93 minutes, were forced to settle for a draw.
Despite this disappointment, time now to move forward and contemplate both sides’ next plans, going into the next two games, first against Belgium and later Italy.
Final Score: Republic of Ireland 1pt, Sweden 1pt.
Republic of Ireland Team: Darren Randolph; Seamus Coleman, Ciaran Clark, John O’Shea, Robbie Brady; Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, Wes Hoolahan; Jonathan Walters, Shane Long.
Substitutes: James McClean, Robbie Keane & Aiden McGeady for Jonathan Walters, Wes Hoolahan & James McCarthy.
Referee: Milorad Mazic.