EURO 2025 qualifier report: Sweden 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland

The Winner Takes It All - Swede’s look anything but Swift yet green grit not enough to earn Ireland a point away in Stockholm.

Off the back of a 3-0 defeat to a suave Sweden in Dublin, Republic of Ireland forewoman Eileen Gleeson made three changes to her starting eleven with Aoife Mannion, Ruesha Littlejohn and Leanne Kiernan selected to start at the Friends Arena in Solna.

Peter Gerhardsson made one enforced change from the side that put the ‘ball’ in Ballsbridge on Friday night, Hanna Lundkvist a straight switch for the injured Nathalie Björn at right-back.

In front of 21,000 spectators, Ireland shifted to a 1-4-2-3-1 formation, Gleeson adjudicating that the pace of Jessica Ziu and Leanne Kiernan combined was worth a punt.

A cynical foul by Bayern belle Magdalena Eriksson, who’s wayward leg stopped Jessica Ziu’s overtake, would give Ireland the first opportunity to get close to goal.

“Where is Megan Campbell when you need her?” RTE’s Méabh De Búrca rued as a yellow shirt cleared Megan Connolly’s inviting whip no further than the sideline’s posting.

As The Blågult ‘s settled, the Canary's began to sing on the right flank - Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Kosovare Asllani driving at the heart of the Irish infantry.

Play paused when Kiernan clashed heads with Sweden’s Julia Zigiotti Olme, the Cavan native looking as if she had gone toe to toe with former Irish International Katie Taylor as she nursed a plugged nose.

The break reset the women in green who on the restart began to shapeshift in line with the 5th best team in the world.

Littlejohn, who had a larger than life following amongst the away contingent showed her teeth in the centre of the park as the London City Lioness muscled Fridolina Rolfö off the ball, while the tended to Kiernan pedalled the pressure on Jonna Andersson on the right.

A first time strike in the 23rd from Connolly struck a discordant note with the Swede’s, the number 6 unlucky to see the ball take a deflection and go wide, while Kyra Carusa sought to penetrate the right channel when the ball came over the top.

Ireland then sat deep for a period as Filippa Angeldahl began to pluck the strings of the Irish harp, scouting low, middle and high for a pass that would penetrate the visitors backline

As the women in yellow and blue continued to press high, Ireland kept the shutters down, Gleeson’s backline bouncers Caitlin Hayes and Louise Quinn repeating that old chestnut of “not tonight” to Gerhardsson’s Gazelles.

Yet Sweden would threaten to outsmart Gleeson’s Guards, Kaneryd outpacing skipper Katie McCabe while Rolfö rifled bodyguard Courtney Brosnan who, over the course of the full ninety, took a smattering of bullets for her side.

Anna Patten would replace Quinn due to injury just shy of half-time, Ireland no doubt the more relieved of the two teams to enter the tunnel on level terms.

After the restart, McCabe drew the attention of the Munich matadors on the left flank, while Mannion made her presence felt at right-back and fired long balls for Carusa who cruised in waves.

Despite Ireland’s strong start, Sweden looked dead certs to equalise as Asllani floated an inviting ball across goal and Madelen Janogy sprung to meet it.

Brosnan would pull off an exemplary save to deny the Serie A striker, the referee’s whistle sounding for offside only after the Evertonian had hit the deck and blocked the header.

Heroine Hayes would come to Mannion’s rescue as the Canary's continued to soar.

As Rolfö looked to devilishly dispossess the United defender metres from her own goal, the warring Celt once again proved herself to be a world class enforcer.

Gleeson would make a double substitution in the 58th, Jessie Stapleton and Abbie Larkin tearing onto the turf as the Lark sought to out wing the Canary’s.

As the Swede’s pressed for three points, McCabe picked up a yellow card for a shove on the kinetic Kaneryd and will miss Ireland’s next game against England, who, following their 2-1 win over France, now sit third in Group A3.

As play shuttled towards the 70th minute, Karusa and Ziu ran at the Swedish defence, feinting and cutting inside the yellow shirts, however their final ball was lacking.

In the 70th, Eriksson crumpled in her own box, her face etched in pain - the replay revealing an unfortunate knee to the back on foot of a set-piece scramble from goal minder Zećira Mušović.

In the final ten, Sweden hunted for the win as Ireland dropped anchor in their attempt to secure a valuable point.

In the 83rd, pressure from the Swede’s won the home side a corner and Andersson steadied herself at the flag as the green and yellow shirts jostled.

“What can I do?” Carusa mouthed as the referee blew her whistle perfunctorily.

The answer, it turned out, was nothing.

As the ball spun deep across the goalmouth, Brosnan, blinded, could only watch as it shaved off the back of Ericksson and soared into the back of the net.

Despite the late blow, Ireland to their credit would rally, substitute Stapleton refusing to remain stationary right up until the final seconds of the contest, her tenacity landing the ball at Mannion’s feet who lofted it down the right lane towards latecomer Amber Barrett.

The Donegal native did well to turn Eriksson and clock off a shot on goal, but the angle was narrow and the strike fell straight into Mušović’s hands.

With the contest ending 1-0 to the Canary’s, Ireland must now be clinical in the play-offs if they are to secure a spot in Switzerland next year.

It’s been a cruel, cruel summer.