Clark buoyed by Zlatan shut-out

Clark buoyed by Zlatan shut-out
Ciaran Clark in training

Republic of Ireland defender Ciaran Clark will take big confidence from shutting out Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Sweden’s star striker, who scored four goals against England last November, endured a frustrating night as Ireland claimed a creditable goalless draw in their World Cup qualifier in Stockholm.

The Paris St Germain forward, whose combined career transfer fees total more than £130m, found chances hard to come by at the Friends Arena with his one meaningful effort deflected wide.

Aston Villa centre-back Clark said: “He is a big, strong guy and his technical ability is unbelievable. Managing to keep a clean sheet away from home is obviously a brilliant result. I am sure it will give the whole back four, and everyone else, confidence going into the next game.”

Ireland will now hope to follow up their strong performance in the Swedish capital by beating Austria back in Dublin on Tuesday.

Germany have taken a five-point lead at the top of Group C but the battle behind them is tight.

Ireland have slipped to fourth but they are just a point behind second-placed Sweden and level with Austria.

Clark, 23, said: “It is a big game but we are happy with the point here and we can go on now, play at home on Tuesday and with a big crowd behind us hopefully we can get three points.”

Ireland were good value for their draw although it was Sweden who had the more clear-cut chances with goalkeeper David Forde forced into three top-class saves.

The visitors did not overly work Swedish keeper Andreas Isaksson but they were highly competitive with James McCarthy driving them forward from midfield.

Clark said: “It is always a tough place to come. They have had some good results recently and for us to get a draw is a brilliant result in the end. We always felt we might get a chance to go on and get the goal.

“We had a couple of half-chances and were a bit unlucky not to come away with three points. Fordey made one or two good saves to keep us in the game but other than that we managed to keep them quiet.

“We showed we can create chances and we could have won the game. We have got to concentrate on the next game now.”

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