O'Neill lauds Ireland players after draw
By Matt Smith
PARIS (Reuters) - Ireland coach Martin O'Neill praised the performance of his team after they were unfortunate to draw 1-1 with Sweden in Euro 2016 Group E on Monday.
Following a first half in which his side hit the crossbar and created other good chances, playmaker Wes Hoolahan put Ireland ahead after 48 minutes with a controlled half-volley and they seemed the likely winners.
"I thought they were magnificent in the game, with some really great football, and we should have been in front by halftime," O'Neill told reporters.
"We were dominant...naturally there was going to be a period in the game where Sweden would come into the match and we had to withstand some corner kicks which we did manfully."
The Swedes equalised through a Ciaran Clark own goal in the 71st minute, the defender heading in following a cutback from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Aside from that Ireland keeper Darren Randolph's only notable save was to palm away a miscue from team mate John O'Shea as Sweden failed to muster a single attempt on target.
"We've more than fighting spirit in the side, we have players who can play a bit, players improving at international level," said O'Neill who had kind words for Clark.
"He should look at his overall performance and be particularly pleased with it," the coach added of his defender.
Forward Robbie Keane, who went on as a substitute, said there were a lot of positives for Ireland.
"Sweden didn't have a chance and we dominated from start to finish," explained Keane.
"I'm not worried about how Sweden played...I care about Ireland...we were really unfortunate."
Man of the match Hoolahan said Ireland proved they have enough ability to get to the last 16.
"We have a great team spirit," said the midfielder. "We played really well and ... and if we can keep that up in the next two games we'll have a good chance."
Describing his third international goal as "one of the best of his career", Hoolahan said Ireland would have to learn not to sit back as they did after dominating Sweden for the first 60 minutes.
Striker Jon Walters is a doubt for the match against Belgium on Saturday after he sustained an Achilles injury.
(Additional reporting by John Irish; Editing by Tony Jimenez)