Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

O'Neill Knows Republic Need Something Special; REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 1 SWEDEN 1

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

O'Neill Knows Republic Need Something Special; REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 1 SWEDEN 1

Article excerpt

MARTIN O'Neill has challenged the Republic of Ireland to pull off a big victory after they were denied a winning start to their Euro 2016 campaign in cruel fashion.

Ciaran Clark's late own goal at the Stade de France ensured Sweden emerged from the first game in Group E with a scarcely-deserved point, leaving both teams needing to spring a shock against either Belgium or Italy if they are to reach the knockout stage.

O'Neill admitted his side's best chance of collecting three points might have gone,but saw enough in a display which was impressive for long periods to believe there is more to come.

Asked if the Republic would now have to do something special against either the Belgians or the Italians, he said: "Well, after today, I think that's probably true.

"It would have been great. I know how Wales feel - they have three points on the board and it does make an awful difference but we'll fight it through.

"We have the two games coming up, very, very tough matches against two sides who are pretty classy but again if I can take anything from the performance it is just the fact the players looked accomplished, which was great.

"We have desire, we have a neversay-die spirit, but I thought they looked accomplished and I think that's players growing into international football, which helps."

Ireland were the better side before the break and had hit the crossbar through Jeff Hendrick and they took a deserved 48th-minute lead when Wes Hoolahan swept home Seamus Coleman's cross in fine style after the full-back had carved his way into the box.

Yet Sweden, who had until that point created little of note, launched their fightback almost immediately and were rewarded 19 minutes from time when defender Clark - who had already forced a save from his own goalkeeper Darren Randolph with a miscued clearance - unwittingly headed Zlatan Ibrahimovic's cross home. …

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