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Ireland, Sweden split points to open Group E


Ireland appeared to be on their way to a group-opening victory, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic once again popped up when his side needed him most, even if his name didn’t end up on the scoresheet because of it.

Ibrahimovic created an own goal late in the second half, canceling out a Wes Hoolahan opener in a 1-1 draw between Sweden and Ireland. The tie gives both sides a point in Group E, which opened play on Monday.

In the 72nd minute, Ibrahimovic struck, erasing the deficit by creating an own goal. Driving towards the end line, Ibrahimovic crossed a ball inside the six-yard box and into the path if Ireland defender Ciaran Clark, who proceeded to head back straight into his own net for the own goal.

The first half proved very much in favor of the Irish, who created several chances inside the first 20  minutes. Jeff Hendrick forced a save out of goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson, while John O ‘Shea whiffed on a chance in the 17th minute.

Just two minutes into the second stanza, Ireland finally got their reward as Hoolahan fired his side into the lead. After weaving past his defender, fullback Sheamus Coleman lofted a pass up and over the Swedish defense. The cross fell to the feet of Hoolahan, who rocketed a first-time volley into the back of the net to the delight of the thousands of Irish fans in the stadium.

Just second after the goal, Sweden nearly struck back. After a save from goalkeeper Darren Randolph, Emil Forsberg pounced on a rebound, but fired wide with Sweden’s best look of the game to that point.

The equalizer came some 30 minutes later via the play of Ibrahimovic, who earned Sweden a hard-fought point ahead of matches against a pair of titans. Sweden returns to action against Italy on Friday, while Ireland takes on Belgium the next day.


Before his late removal in favor of Robbie Keane, Wes Hoolahan was far and away Ireland’s most consistent threat. The veteran midfielder scored a wonderful goal to put his side in the lead early into the second stanza, and deserves plaudits even if his side was unable to maintain the advantage.


When his side needed him most, Zlatan Ibrahimovic stepped up by forcing the Irish defense into an equalizing own goal that swung the game, and a point, into Sweden’s favor.


Own goals on the international level are always a bit more heartbreaking, and Ciaran Clark will feel that sting after his wayward header saw his side drop a pair of points.


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