The Republic of Ireland might have been frustrated with the Group E draw in Paris, but Celtic defender Mikael Lustig maintained it was his Sweden side who wasted a golden chance to take all three points against Ireland in last night’s Euro 2016 Group E opener.
Despite being outplayed in the first half, and going a goal down shortly after it, the Swedes earned a draw and trudged off the Stade de France surface regretful at not capitalising upon the pressure they mounted in the final 20 minutes.
“We had the better chances after equalising,” admitted the right-back, who had to be substituted just short of half-time due to a groin injury and could be ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.
“Ireland played a bit more football on the ground than normal but it was still the Ireland style we expected. They had two big, strong guys up front and played up plenty of high balls.
“In the first half, Ireland created a number of opportunities, mainly from set-pieces. They work hard on their corner kicks and throw-ins.”
John Guidetti, the former Celtic striker who came on with Sweden trailing, outlined the brief he was given by manager Erik Hamren.
“I was told to spread the positive energy and be lively,” explained the Celta Vigo attacker.
“It wasn’t even needed to be said because I was ready for the occasion.
“My heart is always pumping when representing my country and to play at the European Championships is a special feeling.”
Guidetti, Sweden’s main striker during last year’s U21 Euro triumph, certainly made the desired impact, his back-heel releasing Zlatan Ibrahimovic inside the box for the move which led to the equaliser.
He said: “I’m glad to have played a part. We were the better team after Ireland scored and probably should have taken the three points.
“Ireland started best but, once we settled into the game, I thought we could have won the tie. The pitch wasn’t in great condition and it was the opening game so I suppose both teams can be happy with a 1-1 draw knowing they can have a more consistent 90 minutes in the remaining games.”
A subdued Ibrahimovic lamented Sweden’s slowness to get going in the tie, expressing the view they will be a different team against the resurgent Italians on Friday.
“We lacked our usual quality today,” said Zlatan.
“I’m sure we will play much better than this in our two remaining games.
“We were better in the second half. I tried hard against Ireland but I know there is much more to come from me.”
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