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As it happened: Ireland v Sweden, World Cup qualifier

We were perched high in the Aviva Stadium to bring you minute-by-minute updates of tonight’s crucial clash.

Image : ©INPHO/James Crombie
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HERE WE GO, as the song says.

We’re on Lansdowne Road to bring you all the action from Ireland’s crucial Group C World Cup qualifier against Sweden as it happens.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the match. E-mail sean@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

A very, very good evening to you, World Cup fans.

I’m here catching my breath – after hiking to the Aviva’s upper tiers and inflating a plastic hammer – looking down on the lush green turf of Lansdowne Road.

We’re getting perilously close to a make-or-break situation, but a win against Erik Hamren’s blue and yellow army here tonight would be a major  boost in our attempts to board a plane for Rio next June.

The two teams are out for their warm-up.

Here’s how they’ll shape up tonight.

Ireland: David Forde; Seamus Coleman, Richard Dunne, John O’Shea, Marc Wilson; Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, James McClean; Shane Long, Robbie Keane.

Sweden: Andreas Isaksson, Mikael Lustig, Per Nilsson, Mikael Antonsson, Martin Olsson; Sebastian Larsson, Anders Svensson, Albin Ekdal, Alexander Kacaniklic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Elmander.

Confidence has been steadily building as we approach this game. And the mood leading up the stadium tonight was certainly an optimistic one.

Here’s our angle.

How do you think tonight’s clash will go?


Poll Results:

Draw, Bill. (222)
We’re not good enough and we’ll be badly exposed. (207)
'COME. ON. YOU…'. We’ll win. (113)



Billo calls the Swedish talisman “a bit sulky” as the boys launch into a Zlatan blooper reel.

Let’s hope Ibra doesn’t have the RTE Player with him on the pitch, he’d be sticking that to the dressing room wall.

The flag-bearers are awaiting movement in the tunnel and there are still thousands of home seats waiting to be filled.

The away end is almost there. Hopefully it’ll stay quiet down that end.

Just as the first strains of ‘COYBIG’ begin to ripple around the ground, John Giles says he hopes it’s “going to be one of those special nights.”

He’s after a ‘good win’

Which is, of course, any win.

Here they are. The teams are on the field and ready for some ceremonial greetings from Michael D HIggins.

The empty seats I mentioned, almost non-existent.

Most fans were finished the anthem long before Nadia Forde, but we’re finally ready to go.

Lansdowne, you look beautiful tonight. Let’s bring it home.

KICK OFF: We’re under way and on the front foot. A diagonal free kick finds Richard Dunne heading back across the area, but Shane Long’s volley is blocked.

A follow up corner is dealt with at the second attempt and the Lansdowne roar greets Zlatan like the turf as he’s dispossessed by McCarthy.

Ibra dusts himself down and is on hand to hammer a Swedish free-kick right into our wall. The PSG man rushes to close down Wilson to force a sliced clearance but Ireland deal with the throw and soon break with a loose pass being laid off nicely by Shane Long.

More positive play from Ireland and an appeal for handball as Nilsson blocks a firm shot.

Sadly, as Keane lays off the loose ball Whelan’s left-footed shot is poor.

That’s better. Whelan again lines up a shot from outside the area after Keane tries an audacious chip over the top to Long.

It’s firm, it’s fast, but it’s straight at the goalkeeper and now Zlatan’s lining up another at our end.

The boys in green, filling up their entire year’s quota of flicks and chips in the opening 12 minutes here.

Shane Long chases another ball dinked over the top from Keane. It’s all more optimistic than measured out there at the minute.

Ireland attack and Robbie Keane gets a shot away as Ibrahimovic lies crumpled on the floor.

The big man showed good skill to take the ball down under pressure, but John O’Shea steamed in and the ball and his balance away.

Oooh.

The first heart-in-mouth moment as Wilson misjudges a cross from the right and Ibrahimovic lines up a a volley from a tight angle. It’s blocked for a corner and the visitors create another opening from the delivery, Fortunately, the man at the back post could only turn it into the side of the net.

McCarthy and McClean show their short time at Wigan together has helped their understanding. Fine work from the duo to suffocate the Larsson as he tried to play his way out of a corner.

GOAL! IRELAND 1 -0 SWEDEN (Keane ’21)

Moments after McClean tapped the crossbar with a wayward cross Robbie Keane capitalises on some poor defendning

As Lustig gets a weak header on a ball over the top, Keane nips in behind him and manages to poke it beyond the keeper. He’s not scored yet though, the ball comes back off the post with Lustig sliding in.

Olsson can’t react to get more than a toe on it and from a tight angle our leading goalscorer of all time hammers it into the roof of the net.

Wow. From a Swedish point of view that goal was a bit of a mess and they forced Forde into a decent save just second later.

That chance aside, Ireland have Sweden on the rack here as Long invades down the left channel again, but as he cuts back inside the area, he can’t pick a pass and the chance fizzles away.

Brief moment of worry for Shane Long. He hobbled to the sideline with his head down, but he’s back on now and was well positioned as McClean’s driven cross was turned away for a corner.

CHANCE FOR SWEDEN

Major opportunity passed up there by Seb Larsson, after Svensson started the counter attack, he switched to Zlatan who – with green shirts scrambling back – picked out a gorgeous cross to find Larsson unmarked at the back post.

Too much time? Perhaps. He powered his header to the right and wide of the target.

GOAL! Ireland 1 – 1 Sweden (Elmander ’33)

That’s how you head the ball. Elmander thunders Lustig’s cross from the right past Forde and into the net.
Square one.

The hosts visibly injecting some tempo again as Wilson combines with Keane down the left. The skipper moves to come in, but the defence is more than happy to show him down the left and the move breaks down.

Another long ball from Forde brings a snall opening. Shane Long wins the header and Keane is on hand to unleash a brilliant volley… at least it would have been were it not blocked on the edge of the area.

The home fans appeal for another handball, wishful thinking.

Pinball wizardry from Ireland with a lot of our joy coming from balls bouncing around the final third, the latest is a delicate dipping volley from Whelan that drops a meter over the bar. That could have been the greatest goal in the new Lansdowne.

Ibra picks the ball up on a counter hoping tho make the most of these 60 seconds, but his through ball for Kacaniklic is woefully over hit.

HALF TIME: Ireland 1 – 1 Sweden

A fairly frantic 45 minutes of football that with plenty of space and plenty of opportunities on offer.

It’s a game crying out for somebody to grab a hold of it and set the tempo. Fortunately for us, the man most capable of doing that has had limited opportunity to influence matters and is being harangued at almost every turn.

He has had little glimpses of the target – one when he sneaked in behind Wilson and another when O’Shea;s clearance dropped kindly for him – and Ireland must ensure he is kept even quieter in the second half.

Strap yourselves in, here we go.

SECOND HALF

No changes at the break, the scare of seeing Conor Sammon warming up hasn’t resulted in Shane Long getting subbed off just yet.

Now Keane is hobbling. Another round of pinball at the edge of the area sees him attempt a volley and he’s kicked on the foot for his troubles.

No free and Sweden break, Kacaniklic finds space on the left and McClean slides in to turn the ball away, but the chance is still there as Elmander and the Fulham man battle for possession. Elmander swings in a cross and it’s diverted over the bar.

I did say no changes, but McClean and Walters have swapped wings.

Long makes space (enough for a shot) but squares 12 yards to his right for McClean coming in. The Wigan man shoots on his left and Isaksson needs a second attempt to gather safely.

As you might expect, the temps is greatly reduced in this second half as energy levels fade, but the same old patterns persist and Walters leaps to win a free kick 25 yards from goal…

Nothing doing, Jimmy McClean fires it into the wall.

The next attack is more promising, McClean on the gallop past a stricken Long and feeds Coleman to cross into the area. Without Long though, Keane is easily beaten.

GOAL! Ireland 1 – 2 Sweden (Svensson ’56)

We had been warned. Moments earlier Ibra picked a perfect ball for Larsson through the middle but Forde was quick off his line.

This time, the PSG playmaker popped up in the right-hand channel and spotted Anders Svensson on the diagonal run with Glenn Whelan struggling to keep up.

Svensoon was able to take a touch to set himself and drill inside Forde’s near post.

Plenty of noise from the Aviva’s yellow end now. The rest of us are a little downcast.

James McClean is back on the left and jinking before firing a cross against Lustig to win a corner.

Robbie Brady and Simon Cox are warming up down in front of us, but Hamren is the first to make a change. Adam Johansson coming on in place of Lustig.

Jon Walters is the Irish midfielder looking most fatigued at present, Coleman urging him to push forward when he appeared to want a breather.

Coleman making an effort to to put  his stamp on the game as he dribbles at Kacaniklic and goes over the Fulham man’s leg. But the ref waves play on.

67 mins. Brady is still warming up, but Simon Cox is the man coming on to replace Walters.

Wernblom replaces Sweden’s goalscorer Anders Svensson.

Simon Cox appears to have joined the two strikers to form a front three, but he eventually drifts back to the right.

It appears most of the wing duty will be left to Coleman for the last 20.

Ireland win a free-kick near the intersection of the left touchline and halfway, it’s absolutely hoofed into skyward the air and Richard Dunne is knocked off balance as it drops so it just bounces on behind for a goal kick.

Huge let-off for Sweden as Long invades down the right channel with Keane free and screaming for a squared cross to the penalty spot. But long’s head is down and he checks back and into trouble.

The natives are rightly restless.

Anthony Pilkington is finally on the field in an Irish shirt. He’s given his chance to shine as a replacement for James McClean.

The fans are awoken from their sad slumber by a (thankfully fully-clothed) pitch invader. We do the whole Benny Hill routine for a few seconds and then he’s wrestled to the floor.

Now, on with the game?

Kicked off by O’Shea, Ireland begin to find some sort of passing rhythm down the left. An ambitious attempt to switch the ball to Coleman on the right ends that one.

Long lines up a cross from the right – the cross he ought to have tried previously – but a decent curling effort is cut out by Olsson.

This is all petering out in a fairly sad way, it gets even sadder when Wilson passes directly to Elmander allowing to Sweden to break.

The ball breaks to Ibra, but Whelan manages to hoof a clearance behind for a corner.

All the hope, all the vigour, all the belief has been sapped from this Irish side now. Passes are being sloppily misplaced time and again…

.. but then there is Coleman weaving his hips on a mazy run at the left fullback and attempting an outside-of-the-boot cross into the six yard box. It’s cut out, but a glimmer of hope remains that Ireland can salvage something.

There’s a chance. A cross knocked down into the six yard box. Keane comes sliding in but Isaksson has gathered by the time he reaches it.

Free out, and here come the Fields of Athenry.

We’ve played 90, there will be three minutes of added time for Ireland to rescue their World Cup chances.

Ibra is doing his best to hold the ball up in Ireland’s half, but we’re coming back and launching the ball into the danger zone.

Alas, it’s not enough Isaksson looks in full control.

FULL TIME: Ireland 1 – 2 Sweden

It all began so well for Ireland with Robbie Keane scrambling us into a first half lead.

But Sweden came back and few could argue they didn’t deserve to be level by the time Elmander delivered a thundering header past David Forde.

There was a hint of things to come before the winning goal too, Ireland scythed open twice in the space of two minutes, the second opening allowing Svensson fire home to give Sweden all three points.

There you have it, folks.

It’s all over. And, perhaps, so too are Ireland’s hopes of taking a place at the World Cup.

We have all the post-match reaction from Trap, Hamren and a selection of the players coming up for you on TheScore.ie.

Safe home.

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