The Republic of Ireland kept their World Cup qualification hopes very much on track as they earned a merited draw against Sweden in Friday's qualifier.

With James McCarthy and James McClean excelling, Robbie Keane and Shane Long missed early chances in Stockholm.

As the Swedes improved, Irish keeper David Forde made fine saves to deny Tobias Hysen and Andreas Granqvist.

The Republic picked up the pace midway through the second half before Forde denied Rasmus Elm late on.

The result drops the Irish to fourth in Group C on goal difference following Austria's win over Faroe Islands.

However, they remain just a point behind second-placed Sweden with Austria to come at home on Tuesday.

Republic of Ireland's remaining Group C fixtures

  • 26 March - Austria (home)
  • 7 June - Faroe Islands (h)
  • 6 Sept - Sweden (h)
  • 10 Sept - Austria (a)
  • 11 Oct - Germany (a)
  • 15 Oct - Kazakhstan (h)

Giovanni Trapattoni made two late changes to his starting line-up in Stockholm with McCarthy replacing the injured Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters preferred to Hull City youngster Robbie Brady.

Wigan star McCarthy seemed determined to justify his selection reprieve as he linked up superbly with McClean down the Irish left flank before the Sunderland winger's dangerous cross was cut out by Jonas Olsson as Walters appeared set to pounce.

The third of the Republic's early corners went straight to unmarked skipper Keane in the seventh minute but the LA Galaxy veteran completely failed to connect with McClean's deep delivery.

Three minutes later, the composed McCarthy played in a charging Long but, after jinking his way to the edge of the Swedish box, the West Brom striker blazed over with only keeper Andreas Isaksson to beat.

Irish fans must have feared that the missed early chances could come back to haunt Trapattoni's side but it was an encouraging opening after the struggles of the qualifying campaign to date.

The ball-playing ability of full-backs Seamus Coleman and Marc Wilson was giving the Republic improved offensive options with much-criticised midfielder Paul Green providing the defensive shield which Trapattoni had demanded.

The purposeful McCarthy threatened to combine again with the overlapping McClean in the 16th minute but the Wigan player's ball was over-hit.

As the Swedes finally began to look threatening, Forde had to make the first of his smart saves in the 22nd minute as he plucked Hysen's volley out of the air after the hitherto quiet Zlatan Ibrahimovic had out-jumped Ciaran Clark in the air.

The Millwall keeper, playing his first competitive game for the Irish, made an even better save three minutes later as he dived full length to push away Granqvist's glancing header after a Kim Kallstrom free-kick.

After their impressive first-half display, the Republic's play became a tad scrappy in the third quarter before the visitors picked up the pace midway through the second period as Keane was unlucky to lose possession after beating the offside trap in the 69th minute.

Trapattoni's late changes included the introduction of Wes Hoolahan for tiring skipper Keane and the Norwich man did enough to suggest that he should be in the manager's thinking for a start against the Austrians on Tuesday.

Right at the death, the Swedes almost snatched an undeserved victory but the impressive Forde stood firm to push out Elm's deflected drive out for a corner.

As for the Swedish superstar Ibrahimovic, he had scarcely been a factor in the contest with Republic playmaker McCarthy - a player who hadn't even been in Trapattoni's original team selection - battling it out for the man of the match honours with several other Republic players.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Sweden

  • 01 Isaksson
  • 02 Lustig (Antonsson - 46' )
  • 03 Olsson
  • 04 Granqvist
  • 05 Safari
  • 06 Elm
  • 07 Larsson (Durmaz - 87' )
  • 09 Kallstrom
  • 19 Kacaniklic
  • 10 Ibrahimovic
  • 11 Hysen (Toivonen - 72' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Wiland
  • 23 Nordfeldt
  • 14 Nilsson
  • 17 Wendt
  • 08 Svensson
  • 13 Erton Fejzullahu
  • 15 Antonsson
  • 16 Wernbloom
  • 18 Holmen
  • 21 Durmaz
  • 22 Zengin
  • 20 Toivonen

Rep of Ireland

  • 01 Forde
  • 02 Coleman Booked
  • 04 O'Shea
  • 14 Wilson
  • 15 Clark
  • 08 McCarthy Booked
  • 11 McClean (Keogh - 83' )
  • 21 Green Booked
  • 09 Long (Sammon - 87' )
  • 10 Keane (Hoolahan - 76' )
  • 13 Walters

Substitutes

  • 16 Westwood
  • 23 Randolph
  • 03 O'Dea
  • 05 St Ledger
  • 12 Kelly
  • 07 Hoolahan
  • 22 Hendrick
  • 17 Keogh
  • 18 Brady
  • 19 Cox
  • 20 Sammon
Ref: A Undiano Mallenco
Att: 49,436

Match Stats

Shots

7 5

On target

3 0

Corners

7 6

Fouls

13 12

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +2:34 Full time

Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.

90:00 +2:08

Inswinging corner taken by Rasmus Elm from the left by-line, save made by David Forde.

90:00 +1:50

Rasmus Elm takes a shot. Brilliant save by David Forde.

90:00 +1:25

Andy Keogh concedes a free kick for a foul on Behrang Safari. Andreas Isaksson takes the free kick.

90:00 +0:10

Behrang Safari handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Free kick taken by David Forde.

88:01

Conor Sammon handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Free kick taken by Kim Kallstrom.

86:31 Substitution

Substitution Conor Sammon replaces Shane Long.

86:05 Substitution

Substitution Jimmy Durmaz joins the action as a substitute, replacing Sebastian Larsson.

82:24 Substitution

Substitution James McClean goes off and Andy Keogh comes on.

81:46

Sebastian Larsson fouled by Shane Long, the ref awards a free kick. Kim Kallstrom crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel, clearance by Ciaran Clark.

81:04

Foul by James McClean on Sebastian Larsson, free kick awarded. Kim Kallstrom crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance made by James McClean.

79:09

Jonathan Walters has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide left of the target.

78:24

Marc Wilson sends in a cross, Rasmus Elm makes a clearance.

76:56

Seamus Coleman takes the free kick.

76:56 Booking

Booking Seamus Coleman goes into the referee's book for time wasting.

76:48

Jonathan Walters fouled by Behrang Safari, the ref awards a free kick.

75:28

Direct free kick taken by Seamus Coleman.

75:28 Substitution

Substitution Wes Hoolahan comes on in place of Robbie Keane.

75:28

Behrang Safari gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters.

74:18

Kim Kallstrom delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Ciaran Clark makes a clearance.

74:18 Booking

Booking James McCarthy receives a yellow card.

74:10

Free kick awarded for a foul by Robbie Keane on Kim Kallstrom.

71:58 Substitution

Substitution Ola Toivonen comes on in place of Tobias Hysen.

70:50

Tobias Hysen concedes a free kick for a foul on John O'Shea. The free kick is delivered left-footed by James McClean from left wing, Zlatan Ibrahimovic manages to make a clearance.

69:57

James McClean has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the target.

67:05

Foul by Jonas Olsson on Shane Long, free kick awarded. James McCarthy crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, clearance made by Andreas Granqvist.

65:37

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Zlatan Ibrahimovic by John O'Shea. Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes the free kick.

63:43

Inswinging corner taken by Kim Kallstrom from the right by-line, save by David Forde.

62:32

Seamus Coleman fouled by Alex Kacaniklic, the ref awards a free kick. David Forde takes the free kick.

61:04

Sebastian Larsson has a shot on goal from outside the area which misses right.

57:37

Centre by Shane Long, Andreas Granqvist makes a clearance.

51:50

The ball is swung over by Seamus Coleman, Behrang Safari gets a block in.

50:18

Paul Green sends in a cross, save made by Andreas Isaksson.

49:23

Mikael Antonsson challenges James McClean unfairly and gives away a free kick. Marc Wilson takes the free kick.

46:28

Robbie Keane is ruled offside. Andreas Isaksson restarts play with the free kick.

45:01

The second half begins.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution Mikael Antonsson on for Mikael Lustig.

45:00 +1:20 Half time

Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.

45:00 +0:32

Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by James McClean.

44:47

The ball is swung over by Sebastian Larsson.

44:18

Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line.

43:38

Unfair challenge on Mikael Lustig by James McClean results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Kim Kallstrom, clearance made by John O'Shea.

39:41

Behrang Safari takes the direct free kick.

39:41 Booking

Booking Paul Green is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

39:34

Foul by Paul Green on Alex Kacaniklic, free kick awarded.

39:05

The ball is sent over by Robbie Keane, Mikael Lustig gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken left-footed by James McClean played to the near post, clearance made by Mikael Lustig.

37:41

Tobias Hysen takes a shot. Save made by David Forde.

36:23

Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, Headed effort from inside the penalty area by Andreas Granqvist misses to the right of the target.

36:08

Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes a shot. Seamus Coleman gets a block in.

34:42

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shane Long by Andreas Granqvist. Marc Wilson restarts play with the free kick.

33:35

Shane Long concedes a free kick for a foul on Andreas Granqvist. Rasmus Elm restarts play with the free kick.

31:09

Behrang Safari challenges Jonathan Walters unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by John O'Shea, clearance made by Mikael Lustig.

27:03

Headed effort from the edge of the area by Jonathan Walters goes wide of the right-hand post.

26:35

Mikael Lustig concedes a free kick for a foul on James McClean. Free kick taken by Marc Wilson.

24:43

Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, save made by David Forde.

24:02

Marc Wilson concedes a free kick for a foul on Sebastian Larsson. Kim Kallstrom delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, save by David Forde.

21:29

Tobias Hysen takes a shot. David Forde makes a save.

20:48

Foul by Robbie Keane on Rasmus Elm, free kick awarded. Andreas Granqvist takes the direct free kick.

17:50

James McClean takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

17:06

Free kick awarded for a foul by Alex Kacaniklic on Paul Green. David Forde restarts play with the free kick.

14:31

Inswinging corner taken by James McClean from the right by-line, Andreas Isaksson makes a save.

14:13

The ball is sent over by Seamus Coleman, Alex Kacaniklic gets a block in.

10:59

Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson.

10:31

Outswinging corner taken by Kim Kallstrom from the right by-line, Ciaran Clark makes a clearance.

9:53

Shot on goal by Robbie Keane from just inside the area clears the crossbar.

9:22

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jonathan Walters on Alex Kacaniklic. Direct free kick taken by Jonas Olsson.

7:35

Marc Wilson fouled by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the ref awards a free kick. Jonathan Walters takes the direct free kick.

6:59

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shane Long by Behrang Safari. Free kick taken by John O'Shea.

5:53

Outswinging corner taken by James McCarthy.

5:14

Corner taken left-footed by James McClean from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Andreas Granqvist.

4:45

Foul by Behrang Safari on Paul Green, free kick awarded. John O'Shea takes the free kick.

3:27

Centre by Robbie Keane, Header from close in by Jonathan Walters misses to the right of the target.

1:06

Unfair challenge on Tobias Hysen by John O'Shea results in a free kick. Kim Kallstrom takes the direct free kick.

0:09

Left-footed shot by Kim Kallstrom went wide left of the goal.

0:00

The referee gets the game started.

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