‘Credit to Ireland, they really showed up’ - Sweden eager to bounce back

Mikael Lustig’s injury leaves the squad with no other natural right-back to select for Italy

Defender Martin Olsson is hoping Sweden are not made to pay for their draw with the Republic of Ireland, with Italy and Belgium left to play as they remain in pursuit of qualification from Group E.

Manager Erik Hamren was hugely disappointed by his team's display as Ireland took the game at the Stade de France by the scruff of the neck, and had it not been for Ciaran Clark's late own goal, they would have emerged from it empty-handed rather than with a 1-1 draw.

The Swedes now head for Toulouse, where they face group leaders Italy on Saturday, and they know they will have to be much, much better if they are to keep their hopes of qualification alive.

Olsson said: “The first half wasn’t like us and we have to try to improve for the next game. We need to keep the ball a bit better, getting on the ball and moving for each other.


“Every game is important. We had a big chance to get three points.”

Hamren admitted his team was simply not at the races for 50 minutes in Saint Denis, but remains confident they will improve for what on paper at least are tougher tests ahead.

He said: “Sometimes you just don’t get it to work right away. Credit to Ireland, they really showed up and we didn’t really react properly in the beginning.

“But we don’t have a problem with our focus. Our attitude has been really good. We have a proper attitude.”

Sweden's poor start was due in large part of Ireland's excellence, although Martin O'Neill's men had to wait until three minutes after the break to get their reward when Wes Hoolahan steered home Seamus Coleman's cross with some aplomb.

The quality of Hoolahan’s finish came as no surprise to Norwich team-mate Olsson, and he revealed it should not have been so for his compatriots either.

Olsson, 28, said: “Wes was very good today, but I see that from him every day in training, so I wasn’t surprised. Today I told the others that he was a player we had to watch out for, and he showed it.”

If there was relief among the Swedish ranks at a point gained, there was disappointment too after Celtic defender Mikael Lustig limped off before the break to leave Hamren, who has no other specialist right-back in his squad, with a headache.

The manager, who was expecting an update from his medical staff on Tuesday, said: “Of course I was aware there could be injuries — that’s not what you would wish for, obviously.

"We only have one out-and-out right-back, but Erik Johansson has done well as a back-up. But yes, we don't have an out-and-out right-back left."