European Championship
R. of IrelandRepublic of Ireland1SwedenSweden1

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Sweden

By Paul FletcherBBC Sport at the Stade de France, Paris

Ciaran Clark scored an agonising own goal as the Republic of Ireland were held to a frustrating draw against Sweden in their opening Euro 2016 fixture in Paris.

Wes Hoolahan gave the Republic a deserved lead shortly after half-time with a crisply struck half-volley worthy of opening the scoring in any match.

Martin O'Neill's team had struck the woodwork and gone close several times prior to scoring.

But, after taking the lead they found themselves under increasing pressure and conceded when Clark, chosen ahead of Richard Keogh in the centre of defence, headed a low cross from Zlatan Ibrahimovic into his own net.

The equaliser came from one of the few moments of quality from the Sweden captain, who collected a neat backheel from substitute John Guidetti and raced to the byeline before drilling in a low cross.

Jeff Hendrick drew a late save from Andreas Isaksson but there was to be no winner at the end of a feisty, scrappy match the Republic shaded but could not close out.

A result neither wanted?

Ciaran Clark scores an own goal
Ciaran Clark's own goal is the first scored at the Euros since Glen Johnson (England) against Sweden in 2012

Commitment, passion and determination were much in evidence at the Stade de France, with those workmanlike qualities comfortably eclipsing any quality and finesse on show.

But, in the end, neither side had quite enough to prevail and are left to ponder a result that is hardly disastrous but not exactly what either wanted.

Both have remaining Group E fixtures against Italy and Belgium - the two favourites to progress - and have arguably missed out on their best chance to get a crucial victory.

In a tournament with 16 qualifiers from the group stage, three points would have taken one of them a huge step towards reaching the next round.

Endeavour to admire from Republic

The Republic lost all three of their games at Euro 2012, when Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni set up his team to try to stymie their opponents and snatch the points.

Yet after qualifying from a group that included Poland and Germany, there was no lack of adventure and ambition here in Paris.

Robbie Brady was a menace down the left, Hendrick struck the crossbar with a caressed right-foot strike and drew a superb save with a crisp shot from the edge of the area, and John O'Shea was inches from converting Clark's flick-on.

Wes Hoolahan scores for Ireland
Wes Hoolahan (34 years 24 days) is the second-oldest scorer for the Republic at a major tournament after John Aldridge (35 years 279 days) against Mexico at World Cup 1994

There was also no disputing the quality of Hoolahan's goal three minutes after the restart.

Seamus Coleman delivered a superb cross after a teasing, jinking run down the right and Hoolahan, who had found space at a premium in a generally congested midfield, superbly smashed home a half-volley from 14 yards across goal and beyond Isaksson.

Hendrick forced another save from the Sweden goalkeeper with a low strike after his team conceded and the men in green showed enough to suggest that whatever happens to them in this tournament they will leave everything on the field.

The legend only just delivers

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Sweden had no shots on target, the first time they have failed to do so in a European Championship match

Ibrahimovic said before the match that "the legend can still deliver", but it did not look like it for most of the match. On many occasions - especially during the first half - the 34-year-old was drawn so deep in search of the ball that he looked more like a midfielder.

Ibrahimovic, strongly linked with Manchester United, scored 11 of his team's 19 goals in qualifying, and going into the fixture with the Republic might have fancied his prospects against a central-defensive pairing of O'Shea and Clark.

Yet he had very little chance to improve on his record of 62 international goals. He struck the wall with a free-kick, snatched a volley and was inches from converting a low drilled cross.

But he was at the heart of the move that led to the equaliser.

The unfortunate Clark had already gone close once to putting the ball in his own net with a header Darren Randolph did well to save before Emil Forsberg hammered the rebound wide.

But Randolph could do nothing to stop Clark's header after Ibrahimovic had finally sprung to life and at least partially justified his top billing.

Man of the match - Martin Olsson (Sweden)

Martin Olsson
Sweden's Martin Olsson was a constant threat down the left, never missing an an opportunity to pour forward from full-back and deliver crosses into the box

What they said

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill: "I thought we were magnificent in the game with some really great football.

"Of course the goal deflates you and there is disappointment in the dressing room, but I don't think the players should be downhearted with their performance.

"I think they should be absolutely thrilled with the way we played."

Goalscorer Wes Hoolahan: "The boys were unlucky but we'll take the point. We created a lot of chances.

"In the first half we were excellent and at the start of the second as well. The boys should be proud of themselves, it's a great point in the end."

The stats you need to know

  • The Republic of Ireland have kept just one clean sheet at the European Championship - their debut game against England in 1988 (1-0).
  • Indeed, the Republic have failed to win a single game in the competition since the aforementioned match against England (D2 L4).
  • Sweden have only won three of their past 15 games at the European Championship (D5 L7).
  • Only the Netherlands (3) have profited from more own goals at the European Championship than Sweden (2).
  • Wes Hoolahan became the fourth Republic player to score at the European Championship, after Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan and Sean St Ledger.
  • Robbie Keane became the oldest outfield player to play for the Republic at the Euros (35 years and 11 months).

What's next?

Sweden take on Italy in Toulouse at 14:00 BST on Friday while the Republic face Belgium in Bordeaux at 14:00 BST the day after.


R. of Ireland

Formation 4-3-1-2

  • 23Randolph
  • 2Coleman
  • 4O'Shea
  • 3Clark
  • 19Brady
  • 8McCarthyBooked at 43minsSubstituted forMcGeadyat 85'minutes
  • 6WhelanBooked at 77mins
  • 20HoolahanSubstituted forKeaneat 78'minutes
  • 13Hendrick
  • 14WaltersSubstituted forMcCleanat 64'minutes
  • 9Long


  • 1Westwood
  • 5Keogh
  • 7McGeady
  • 10Keane
  • 11McClean
  • 12Duffy
  • 15Christie
  • 16Given
  • 17Ward
  • 18Meyler
  • 21Murphy
  • 22Quinn


Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Isaksson
  • 2LustigSubstituted forJohanssonat 45'minutes
  • 14LindelöfBooked at 61mins
  • 4Granqvist
  • 5Olsson
  • 7Larsson
  • 18LewickiSubstituted forEkdalat 86'minutes
  • 9Källström
  • 6Forsberg
  • 11BergSubstituted forGuidettiat 59'minutes
  • 10Ibrahimovic


  • 3Johansson
  • 8Ekdal
  • 12Olsen
  • 13Jansson
  • 15Hiljemark
  • 16Wernbloom
  • 17Augustinsson
  • 19Kujovic
  • 20Guidetti
  • 21Durmaz
  • 22Zengin
  • 23Carlgren
Milorad Mazic

Match Stats

Home TeamR. of IrelandAway TeamSweden
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Republic of Ireland 1, Sweden 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Republic of Ireland 1, Sweden 1.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden).

  4. Post update

    Ciaran Clark (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Andreas Granqvist (Sweden).

  6. Post update

    Shane Long (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Albin Ekdal (Sweden) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Foul by James McClean (Republic of Ireland).

  9. Post update

    Foul by Sebastian Larsson (Sweden).

  10. Post update

    James McClean (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Sweden. Albin Ekdal replaces Oscar Lewicki.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Aiden McGeady replaces James McCarthy.

  13. Post update

    Guidetti (Sweden) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Glenn Whelan (Republic of Ireland).

  15. Post update

    Offside, Republic of Ireland. Glenn Whelan tries a through ball, but Shane Long is caught offside.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden).

  17. Post update

    Ciaran Clark (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Robbie Keane replaces Wes Hoolahan.

  19. Booking

    Glenn Whelan (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden).


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3Northern Ireland100101-10


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