Sweden disappoint while the Republic of Ireland punch above their weight in a 1-1 draw. In the end, it was the underdogs who were left ruing what might have been, with the match turning on an own goal.
Sweden came into the initial match of Group E in Saint-Denis as the favorites, largely thanks to the presence of superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ireland's team didn't feature any truly famous names, but this was a squad that beat world champions Germany in the qualifiers. Sweden were well-advised to take them seriously.
Much to the delight of the Green Army, coach Martin O'Neill's men were by no means cowed by Ibrahimovic and Co. while the Swedes had a bit more of the ball, it was the Irish who got off the better shots in the first half.
Jeff Hendrick came the closest, beating keeper Andreas Isaksson in minute 32, but his effort hit the crossbar. Ibrahimovic had a look five minutes later but went well wide of the mark.
After the break, Ireland picked up off right where they had left off. Only two minutes into the second half, fullback Seamus Coleman pushed the ball up the right-hand side, and Norwich City's Wes Hoolahan spanked home a half-volley.
Sweden almost responded two minutes after that, but Emil Forsberg couldn't capitalize on a loose ball in the box. The Swedes continued to look for Ibrahimovic, but the Irish defense was keeping the veteran center forward on a short leash.
But in minute 71 Ibrahimovic did shake his markers long enough to put in a cross which defender Ciaran Clark headed into his own goal. Hendrick almost immediately responded, but Isaksson parried his well-hit effort.
Ireland seemed to run out of gas somewhat in the latter stages, and Sweden's greater physical presence showed. But neither side made a serious bid for a game-winner, and the match ended 1-1.
Sweden move on to face Italy on Friday in Toulouse while Ireland look horns with Belgium in Bordeaux.