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Sweden held to draw by Ireland, 2nd in qualifying group

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Associated Press
3/22/2013 7:18:34 PM
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SOLNA, Sweden -- Sweden was held to a 0-0 draw by Ireland on Friday to barely hold on to second place in their World Cup qualifying group.

Ireland dominated the opening period of the game through an energetic performance from striker Shane Long at Friends Arena. But Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic slowly led his team back into the match despite meeting tough resistance from the Irish defence.

The star striker from Paris Saint-Germain produced a couple of good chances for Sweden in the first half, including a diagonal pass for striker Tobias Hysen to volley wide in the 22nd minute.

In the second half, the Swedes lacked tempo and couldn't find any rhythm in their passing game. An attempt in the second minute of stoppage time by midfielder Rasmus Elm to emulate his last-ditch goal against Germany in Sweden's come-from-behind 4-4 draw failed.

Sweden coach Erik Hamren said Ireland successfully "killed our intentions."

"Of course I am disappointed," Hamren said. "I think we deserved at least one goal to win this game."

However, Hamren commended his players for preventing the visitors from failing to create even "a single chance at a goal in 90 minutes."

Hysen was playing his second game with the national team, this time in place of the injured Johan Elmander. Hysen conceded Sweden played "carelessly at times" and missed simple passes.

Sweden has eight points in Group C from four matches. Germany leads with 13 points from five games. Ireland and Austria are next with seven points from four matches.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic John O'Shea (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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