Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden needed an own goal to salvage a 1-1 draw with fighting Ireland as Group E got going at Euro 2016 on Monday.

Norwich's Wes Hoolahan opened the scoring for Ireland with a classy half-volley three minutes into the second half but Sweden then stepped up the pace and levelled in the 71st when Ciaran Clark headed Ibrahimovic's cross into his own net.

Ireland dominated the first half, in which Robbie Bradie hit the crossbar and the former Paris Saint-Germain star Ibrahimovic was completely contained but they then paid the price for sitting back too much after the opening goal.

The draw may help neither side as Group E also features 2012 runners-up Italy and former world ranking leaders Belgium who were to meet in evening game in Lyon.

"The first half wasn't good at all, but the second half was much better. We created opprotunities and tried to control the ball. Thanks to that we created chances," Ibrahimovic told Swedish TV.

"There are two matches left, we have to get the points we need to advance. We didn’t lose, that’s what matters," he said.

Ibrahimovic added: "I did what I could, considering the passes I got." Coach Erik Hamren agreed, saying "the attacking play was not really good" but pointed out that Ibrahimovic was involved in the equalizer.

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said his men played Ibrahimovic "exceptionally well. We forced him away from our goal as much as possible and it worked a treat."

O'Neill was delighted overall, saying his men were "magnificent and played some really good football. The goal (equalizer) deflates you, there is disappointment in the dressing room obviously. But they should be absolutely thrilled with the way they played."

The Stade de France, all but sold out with 73,419, was bathed in a sea of Irish green and Swedish yellow, and the Ireland fans were in fine and full voice long before kick-off.

They enjoyed a strong first half from their heroes against a timid Sweden on a cool and overcast but dry afternoon.

Jeff Hendrick had a first shot parried by goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson and in the 17th John O'Shea somehow failed to tap into an empty net at the far right post after Clark had dangerously headed on Robbie Brady's corner.

Ibrahomovic only got a small chance for himself in the 21st when he aimed a free-kick from some 30m straight into the Irish wall while on the other end Brady's 20m blast went inches over the bar and Hendrick's shot from a similar distance hit the crossbar.

Ireland eventually claimed a deserved lead in the 48th.

Seamus Coleman got past two defenders on the right, crossed into the back of the Swedish defence and Hoolahan converted with a curling half-volley into the right corner, a goal that helped him take the man-of-the-match award.

The goal finally woke up the Swedes, and within in a series of corner kicks Emil Forsberg aimed wide left after Darren Randolph had saved a first header.

Ibrahimovic's flick went just wide left off Martin Olsson's low cross, and it appeared only a matter of time that they were punished.

That finally happed in the 71st when Ibrahimovic crossed from the left and Clark, in an attempt to clear under pressure, headed into his own net at the near left post.

Manager Martin O'Neill brought veteran Robbie Keane on for his 143rd cap in attempt to regain the lead but it was to no avail as Ireland remain on just one win from their now seven games overall at the Euros, a famous 1-0 over England in their 1988 debut.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.