Ireland produced a sterling display in Sweden on Friday night and proved the negative build up and press before-hand was entirely unwarranted.
Many predicted Sweden to run out easy winners of this clash. Sweden so impressive in their previous matches against Argentina,England and Germany were largely controlled and maintained by and impressive Irish side in Stockholm however. A lot was made of the imperious Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the game but he was surprisingly kept at bay by long periods of the game by the impressive John O’Shea and Ciaran Clarke.
In truth this was a matter of two limited sides cancelling each other out with the real star of the show, Zlatan, not living up to his billing.
Ireland started the better with Long missing a good chance and the impressive Coleman and McGeady drilling some good crosses into the box. McCarthy ,who was not even included in the original team selection, was magnificent throughout and controlled the tempo for Ireland as they launched wave after wave of attack without really threatening the Sweden Goal. Sweden tried to come back into it and as they first half drew to a close the signs were positive for Ireland.
The second half failed to produce much for either side however and a few incisive balls from McCarthy aside,it appeared both teams were happy to take the draw. Ireland fans will be happy with the performance and the result though and will be confident of defeating an average Sweden team at home.
Austria are up next for the Irish on Tuesday. Ireland are now 14 games unbeaten on the road. It is the home form that is worrying for the Irish fans however with many of the performances at home lacking the cutting edge needed at international level to put teams away. This was a younger, hungrier looking Irish team on show however and with players like McClean, McCarthy and Coleman impressing the future does look a little brighter for the boys in green!