It was another night of heartache at the Stade de France on Monday night as the Republic of Ireland took on Sweden in the first Group E game of Euro 2016.
Ireland looked set for their first win at the Euros since they beat England in Stuttgart in 1988 – but that was cruelly snatched away from them, even more cruelly by one of their own men.
Here’s what happened:
The game in one line
1. The Republic of Ireland were absolutely full of momentum in the first half. They held possession, played with control and freedom, and made several shots on target. Sweden – and their superstar player Zlatan Ibrahimovic – were effectively rendered hopeless.
2. Just two minutes into the second half, Ireland finally had something to show for their dominance. Wes Hoolahan expertly guided a half-volleyed shot from a Seamus Coleman cross wide of the keeper Andreas Isaksson and into the corner of the net. Cue the celebrations.
3. But then, something changed. Ireland’s energy dropped and Sweden sensed an equaliser. It eventually came in the 71st minute, though not in the form anyone had expected or hoped for. Ciaran Clark, in a desperate attempt to cut out Ibrahimovic’s cross, unwittingly turned it past his own keeper and straight into the back of their own net. Cue end of celebrations.
Who played well?
Jeff Hendrick’s relative inexperience at such a high level was unable to be seen as he really took the game to Sweden throughout the 90 minutes.
The midfielder made two great attempts, forcing Isaksson to save a rising drive within the first ten minutes and later when he came the closest to breaking the deadlock of the first half with a shot that rattled the crossbar.
Who played badly?
It was not Clark’s day today, with one own goal and another close call earlier on.
The cheers from Hoolahan’s strike very nearly came to an abrupt end when Clark hacked an attempted clearance towards his own goal, forcing Darren Randolph into his first real save of the game.
The draw was a frustrating blow considering how well Ireland played and the team could justifiably feel they should have emerged with more. But just the one point will have to do.
Fun fact of the game
With Robbie Keane at 35 years old (and 11 months) being the oldest outfield player to play for Ireland at the Euros, ever.
The view in the stands
The sea of bright green and yellow shirts was a treat for the eyes of the people watching at home.
The view in the streets
Photos of a packed-out atmospheric Dublin just make you want to be there.
Fans of the day
In the face of all the violence that has plagued the first few games of the Euros, this group of champs show how rival fans can get along and have fun together.
Tweet of the day
We definitely agree.
The Republic of Ireland’s have the best part of a week to learn from this game before their next challenge against Belgium on Saturday June 18 at the Stade de Bordeaux at 2pm.
Sweden, on the other hand, have slightly less time before they face Italy on Friday June 17 at the Stadium Municipal, also at 2pm.