Wes Hoolahan put Ireland ahead
Ciaran Clark’s own goal denied Republic of Ireland a dream start to life in Group E as they were held to a draw with Sweden on Monday evening.
The Boys in Green took the lead early in the second half through a sublime Wes Hoolahan strike after getting the best of the first half.
However, their hard work was undone with 20 minutes remaining when Clark put Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s cross into his own net to settle the game as a draw.
And it doesn’t get any easier for Ireland as they face much-fancied Belgium on Saturday, while Sweden face Italy.
The inside of the Stade de France looked magnificent with the stands looking like a wall of yellow against a wall of green to create an electric atmosphere.
Ireland and Sweden wrestled for the upper hand in the game in the early stages as neither side managed to carve out a chance of significant note with Jeff Hendrick coming closest, but his shot was turned away for a corner.
The Boys in Green grew into the game as the first half aged and they came within a stud’s length of taking the lead but John O’Shea couldn’t quite get on the end of Clark’s knockdown across goal.
Just prior to the half-hour mark, Robbie Brady rasped a long range effort which grazed the roof of Andreas Isaksson’s goal.
And Hendrick came even closer a few minutes later when his curling effort thundered off the crossbar with Isaksson well beaten.
Two minutes after the break and Ireland were ahead when Seamus Coleman reached the byline before lofting in a deep cross which was spectacularly thwacked home on the half volley by Hoolahan.
Sweden had the opportunity to hit straight back but Emil Forsberg smashed the ball over the bar when he really should have scored.
Ibrahimovic had done very little in the game but came alive in the 71st minute when he got a yard of space and made his way to the dead-ball line before seeing his fierce cross headed past Darren Randolph and into his own net by Clark.
And while both teams looked to nick a winner, they had to settle for a draw in the end in what is arguably Euro 2016’s toughest group.