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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Martin: Draw 'good as win in Georgia'

John O'Shea congratulates Daryl Murphy
John O'Shea congratulates Daryl Murphy

Martin O'Neill believes that the point won in Belgrade could yet prove to be as significant as the away win in Georgia in the Euro 2016 qualifying opener.

"I'm delighted with the point. Absolutely delighted with it. We got off to a great start but just because you score in three minutes, it's a long, long time to go," he said.

"We scored early on in the match against France too. Again, similar to France in many aspects, we're sitting there reasonably comfortable.

"It would be nice to go and try to get a second goal. We tried to push forward but Serbia, like France, started to push us back again as you'd expect.

"But overall I'm delighted with the fact that we fought back. and that we created chances as well. We scored two goals away from home on a quagmire of a pitch against what I would still consider very decent opposition."

O'Neill believes that Serbia will be a much more formidable outfit if they can spark the support of fans who have fallen out of love with their team.

"I think if the crowd decide to get behind the team and support them in droves then I think it will be difficult for other teams. And, far from ruling Serbia out, they've got some players to come back too. Who knows who's going to be fit at any given stage. We've got our own things to be concerned about.

Fitness

"But, talking about fitness, I think some of the players who played tonight will gain from that. In a month's time, if they are fit for international matches, having played some club games, I think that maybe could be of benefit to us."

O'Neill is adamant that qualifying football is different from tournament football.

"I was asked a couple of questions about taking things to another level. This is a new competition. This is not tournament football.

"We should realise this and know these things. This was a big point for us and we have to go and try and make use of it now in the upcoming games.

"Austria, who didn't perform to their ability (in France), have won away from home. That's a big result for them.

"We're off the mark, we've scored a great equalising goal. We created a number of chances in the game and so did Serbia, so we've really got to sort of tighten up all around."

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