herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Gio accepts men in green made 'mistakes' and weighs up changes

GIOVANNI Trapattoni tipped his hat to Slaven Bilic and admitted Ireland were the authors of their own downfall and that Croatia deserved to win.

Muted by events and the clear gap in class between the two teams, Trapattoni summed the game up with one simple sentence. "The first goal was our mistake, the second the referee's and the third ours again," he said.

Trapattoni explained that Shay Given missed the flight of the ball for the sickening Croatian opening goal and that such an early concession was a major psychological blow.

"Shay maybe didn't see the ball because he had three or four players in front of him. That placed us in a psychologically inferior position. They were superior in midfield.

"Our performance was not like other games when we didn't concede goals but we conceded three in this one.

"I tried to change things and I thought about the next game so I gave a rest to Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle.

"When I put on Walters and Cox we had a little bit more possession, not too much. Just a little bit more.

"Spain is another game and I have to think hard about making changes. In this situation, when you exclude players it could seem that it is because someone played badly, but that is not true. If I decide to change, I don't know now whether I will or not, it will not be because someone didn't deserve to play."

It is always easy to be gracious when you've just pocketed three handy points in a tournament opener but Slaven Bilic went to some lengths to compliment Ireland's resolve.

He knows that a favour from Trapattoni could guarantee Croatia a place in the quarter-finals so he was happy to ladle on the charm.

"I think Ireland can cause both Spain and Italy problems and will do that because they are strong and they will fight," said Bilic.

"We were very motivated because we knew the Irish would press a lot.

Difficulties

"They like to shoot, they are fast, they play long balls and they were better than us in some moments but overall we were much better. I am sure Spain and Italy will have some difficulties against them.

"I was expecting this kind of game. We knew everything about the Irish but we knew we were a better team.

"But you never know. We played them in a friendly in August 2011 and everyone thought we didn't play well in that game but I think this time we showed how well we can play. We were much better in attack.

"I would like to congratulate my team, both teams and particularly the supporters of both teams.

"It was an amazing atmosphere to play football in and a good match even for the neutral."

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