Written by Alex Kay
Republic of Ireland started off their Euro 2016 campaign against Sweden with the not-so-easy task of keeping Zlatan quiet! The boys in green kicked of their group, meaning that they had the chance to top the table (if only for a couple of hours). Although, group E was named the infamous group of death this time around, and with Ireland being considered heavy underdogs, it was never going to be an easy task. Ireland were dominant in the first half with the best chance coming when Ireland’s Jeff Hendrick hit the bar from the edge of the box. Sweden hadn’t had a sniff. The second half started and Sweden still hadn’t woken up, and within 2 minutes Seamus Coleman’s cross found Wes Hoolahan who brilliantly volleyed it into the bottom corner, 1-0. However the Swedes grew in confidence as the second half went on and with some neat play around the edge of the box, Ibrahimovic dribbled the ball to the by-line and delivered a dangerous cross that was put into his own net by the unfortunate Ciaran Clark, 1-1. But no-one could find a winner. The game finished 1-1 with Ireland maybe feeling hard done by but that’s football, a decent team performance but here are my individual performances:
Darren Randolph – 6/10
The West Ham keeper made his competition debut and didn’t do anything too out of line. He didn’t have a lot to do making just the one save in the whole game with a great reaction stop after a Sweden corner deflected off of an Irish man. Nothing he could have done about the goal, a decent performance.
Seamus Coleman – 6/10
Despite getting an assist, Coleman had a mixed game. The Everton man looked dangerous going forward, beating full backs and crossing balls in but struggled defensively. A few headers missed and loose passes put his team under pressure but generally an okay performance.
John O’Shea – 7/10
This man had a good game. His task was to keep Zlatan quiet, which bar the own goal he did. Zlatan looked far from the best player on the pitch which is a lot down to the Sunderland centre-half. Making interceptions and tackles he cut out most of the Swede attacks and put in a good performance.
Ciaran Clark – 6/10
Very unfortunate with the own goal, there was very little he could do about it. Taking that aside, he had a decent game, not putting a major foot wrong and generally doing what needed to be done, no shame in the Villa man’s performance.
Robbie Brady – 8/10
One of he better players on the pitch, he was a constant threat down the left hand side. He was incredibly impressive and tore the Swedish right hand side to pieces. Looked a different player to the one who was relegated with Norwich, and I’m sure Sweden will be relieved to see the back of him.
Glenn Whelan – 7/10
A bit of an unsung hero, Whelan covered a lot of ground cutting out passes and blocking attacks. His cover in front of the back four was part of the reason Sweden didn’t register a shot on target and his distribution to keep the play ticking over was excellent. His performance will be clouded by a minor incident with a Swedish player in which he picked up a yellow card.
James McCarthy – 6/10
Had an okay game. Made tackles and fouls when he needed to, didn’t give the ball away very often, McCarthy had a steady game but did pick up a yellow card for his troubles and was eventually subbed off to avoid further action against him.
Jeff Hendrick – 9/10
Another one who had a very good game. He was very clever on the ball and didn’t give possession away easily, he also looked a goal threat with 3 troubling efforts including his first half attempt that crashed against the woodwork. A really troubling player who put himself about and my personal pick for Man of the Match.
Wes Hoolahan – 7/10
The Norwich man looked tidy as ever on the ball weaving in and out of defenders looking to probe, however he really struggled to create any chances for the forwards and they became isolated at times. Took his goal well in what was a very well hit volley from 10 yards into the bottom corner of they goal in what looked like for a long time should have been the winner. A good performance.
Shane Long – 6/10
The Saints forward used a lot of energy up front chasing down clearances and bullying defenders. However, he didn’t get any real chances for his effort and looked frustrated at times. Despite this he gave the Irish some real rest-bite when they needed it and had a decent labouring performance.
Jon Walters – 6/10
Again not the greatest of afternoons for the forward. he put himself about and won most of his headers, he was a real outlet at times. But again, despite Ireland’s dominance in the first half none of the chances fell to this man which was a shame for him. But his performance was good enough despite that, a lot of energy and a handful for the Swedish defenders.
Do you agree with these ratings? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Nazionale Calcio