Monday 18 February 2019

Martin bemoans sloppy goals as World dream dies

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Seamus Coleman consoles James McClean.. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

With three strikes of exquisite beauty from Christian Eriksen, Ireland's World Cup dreams turned irrevocably into nightmare territory as Denmark's talisman proved his undoubted class once again.

Perhaps there was a degree of complacency after the Tottenham player's relatively subdued display in Copenhagen on Saturday evening but the contrast in his performance was equally apparent in terms of Ireland's security at the back.

After impressing defensively three nights previously the back four, and indeed the protection afforded them by a hugely underwhelming midfield, resembled a rabble with any ambitions of a positive evening undermined by a series of uncharacteristic errors.

"We were well beaten in the end and there is no question about that," said manager Martin O'Neill.

"Obviously we got off to a great start and a second goal might have made a big difference in the game.

"However, we conceded two really sloppy goals in a period of a couple of minutes and it was a long way back after that.

"The goals were so sloppy when you look at them.

"They were so, so bad.

"The second goal was a comedy of mistakes.

"In a game of such importance, the whole mindset changes and from looking at maybe being two goals up," he said.

Of course, much of the post-match reaction focussed on O'Neill's decision to replace central midfielders David Meyler and Harry Arter for the more attacking-minded Aiden McGeady and Wes Hoolahan.

That decision backfired spectacularly from an Ireland perspective as Ireland looked even more porous defensively while failing to place concerted pressure at the opposite end of the field through a lack of creative intent with the Derry native feeling this particular throw of the dice was essential given Ireland's predicament.

"We had to try to create something and try to get the ball into the penalty area and you are just hoping that Wes might be able to work something for us and that maybe the same with McGeady.

"That's the name of the game and we had to go for it.

"You cannot die wondering at the end of the day and two goals are not easy to come by.

"We are capable of coming back from this.

"We have been well beaten in a play-off game to try to bring us to the World Cup.

"We can come back again," he added.

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