Sport Republic of Ireland

Saturday 1 October 2016

Match Report: Hoolahan scores a beauty but Ireland left to rue missed chances in 1-1 with Sweden

Miguel Delaney

Published 13/06/2016 | 17:48

Republic of Ireland's Wes Hoolahan (right) celebrates scoring. Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Republic of Ireland's Wes Hoolahan (right) celebrates scoring. Chris Radburn/PA Wire
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Robbie Brady, left, during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Robbie Brady, right, during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland shoots to score his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Robbie Brady, left, during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan, centre, of Republic of Ireland celebrates after he scored his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan, right, and team-mate Glenn Whelan of Republic of Ireland celebrate after he scored his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Martin Olsson of Sweden in action against Seamus Coleman of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Team captains Zlatan Ibrahimović of Sweden and John O'Shea of Republic of Ireland lead their teams out ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Andreas Granqvist of Sweden and Shane Long of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Andreas Granqvist of Sweden in action against Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Jeff Hendrick of Republic of Ireland goes close with a long range effort on goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Shane Long of Republic of Ireland and Andreas Granqvist of Sweden during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Robbie Keane, left, and Shay Given of Republic of Ireland prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Shane Long of Republic of Ireland and Andreas Granqvist of Sweden during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Emil Forsberg of Sweden is tackled by Seamus Coleman of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; James McCarthy of Republic of Ireland in action against Marcus Berg of Sweden during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Claudine Keane with her son Robbie Keane Junior prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Claudine Keane with her son Robbie Keane Junior prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Zlatan Ibrahimović of Sweden in action against Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Emil Forsberg of Sweden is tackled by Seamus Coleman of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; James McCarthy of Republic of Ireland in action against Martin Olsson of Sweden during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Seamus Coleman of Republic of Ireland is tackled by Emil Forsberg of Sweden during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Zlatan Ibrahimović of Sweden in action against Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Better than Euro 2012, but still should have been so much better than a 1-1 draw.

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There’s no other way of spinning this ultimately frustrating opening game to the campaign for Ireland: it was a wasted opportunity against a weak Swedish side, and could well end up costing qualification for the last 16 given the nature of this group and the two heavyweights to come.

An initially spirited and committed display led to Wes Hoolahan’s brilliant 48th-minute opening goal, only to give way to an inherent Irish caution that was far more influential in this match than Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s talent. Despite Martin O’Neill’s backline keeping him quiet in such an accomplished manner for so long, it was a case of Ireland eventually allowing him the space to do damage to force Ciaran Clark’s own goal, rather than Ibrahimovic creating that space himself.

For that, too, O’Neill will have to take some criticism despite the initial good work. Putting Clark in was his big decision before the game and, unfortunately, the centre-half made the most errors.

Ireland may have made a big mistake themselves in letting this win slip away. It could prevent them making history, and that should be really frustrating given the pattern of the game.

After a cautious start, when Ibrahimovic did offer one supreme turn to supposedly signal his willingness to seize this tournament, it was as if Ireland gradually realised there genuinely was very little to the Swedes beyond their obvious star.

Erik Hamren's offered nothing at that point and, little be little, O’Neill’s side began to offer more and more. It started with a Jeff Hendrick shot from the edge of the box, as if that was Ireland just testing how robust the Swedish were and how far they could take any attack.

The answer was very.

From there, Ireland began to commit more and more forward, and get closer and closer. John O’Shea should have scored from a set-piece, Hendrick smashed the crossbar with one of the moves of the game, and then the irrepressible Shane Long almost got his head to yet another divine Robbie Brady delivery.

At the centre of all this, of course, was Hoolahan. He raised the imagination of Ireland’s play any time he got the ball, and just generally elevated the quality of the game. The 34-year-old, finally making his debut on this kind of stage, was by far the best and most elegant player on it - and that’s really saying something when you have someone like Ibrahimovic on the pitch. They’re the same age, but have hardly had the same careers.

13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters arrive at the Stade de France ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters arrive at the Stade de France ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters Mark Hanratty, left, from Blackrock, Co. Dublin, and Stephen Flood, from Dalkey, Co. Dublin, prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland and Sweden supporters prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters Mary, left, and Christine Forsyth prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters Mary, left, and Christine Forsyth with a Swedish supporter prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters Mary, left, and Christine Forsyth with a Swedish supporter prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Irish fans arriving at Stade De France for Irelands Euro 2016 clash this evening. Pic:Mark Condren 13.6.2016
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; A Republic of Ireland supporter ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; A Republic of Ireland supporter ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporters Malachy Gormley and Ann Magella Doherty from Dungloe, Co. Donegal, ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan / Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Republic of Ireland supporter Thomas Adamczyk, from Navan, Co. Meath, ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan / Sportsfile

Then again, Ibrahimovic was hardly afford the space that he has enjoyed throughout so much of that career. The Swedish star could barely get a touch of the ball in the opening 55 minutes, as O’Neill has clearly come up with a plan.

Any time Ibrahimovic got on it, O’Shea and Clark immediately got close, with the excellent Glenn Whelan also coming back to complete the exclusion zone around him. It meant that Sweden could do little else, but Ireland could do a lot more

Because, having already raised the game, Hoolahan raised the roof.

On 48 minutes, Seamus Coleman did brilliantly to get down the right and beat Emil Forsberg - the Swedish winger that Coleman himself was meant to be defending - before clipping a fine ball in to the centre.

Good as the cross was, it still bounced awkwardly and was on Hoolahan’s wrong foot - only for Ireland’s finest technical player to so excellently keep it down, and send it in.

It was no more than Ireland deserved - only for them to immediately stop doing the kind of things that deserved a win.

It was a remarkable case study in the psychology of a goal. Now it was Ireland that looked like a nothing side, and Sweden who had something beyond Zlatan, or rather people he could play off.

The pressure grew and grew, and the warning was there when Clark sliced a corner back towards his own goal that Darren Randolph had to push away. Ireland had a let-off when Forsberg drove the ball wide from just yards out, but it was asking a little too much to keep stepping off and expecting the same.

So, Ibrahimovic finally stepped up. On 71 minutes, he drove down the right and squared - only for Clark to divert the ball into his own net.

Once again, it was only what Ireland deserved. They had lost the initiative.

They could well have lost the game - when the harsh truth is that the win should have been sealed long before.

A wasted opportunity.

 

Ireland: Randolph: Coleman, O’Shea, Clark, Brady; McCarthy (McGeady 85), Whelan, Hendrick; Hoolahan (Keane 78); Walters (McClean 63), Long

Sweden: Isaksson; Lustig (Johansson 45), Lindelof, Granqvist, M Olsson; Larsson, Lewicki (Ekdal 86), Kallstrom, Forsberg; Berg (Guidetti 59), Ibrahimovic

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