Friday 15 December 2017

Martin O'Neill hasn't given up on dream of automatic Euros qualification

Jonathan Walters
Jonathan Walters

Martin O'Neill has not ruled out automatic qualification for Euro 2016 after back-to-back wins over Gibraltar and Georgia coupled with Scotland's mini-collapse threw Group D wide open again.

"If we go and play really strongly which we will have to do for the 90 minutes against Germany, I don't know. I don't know. I'm relishing the game and I think the players are as well," said O'Neill. "I think the Germans are the type of side that can play home or away without a great deal of problem. We have to try and really put a show on if we can."

O'Neill is still at a loss to explain the turnaround in fortunes from one half to the next at the Aviva Stadium which eventually produced Jon Walters's winner but he did hint at a frank exchange of views in the dressing room at the break.

"I heard a fantastic manager, a Mr Cody from Kilkenny say that sometimes, people step up to the plate when you really want them, really want them," when asked about the scene in the Irish bunker at half-time.

When pressed on whether Roy Keane or senior players made their feelings known, O'Neill smiled: "I will be delighted to quote Mr Cody."

"We had an urgency about the second half. You have 90 minutes to win a game and then you start sluggishly and it takes time to get going.

"The next thing, the opposition are playing it nicely themselves. I've seen this game so often but at least we quelled them and the second half we came out, started immediately, put them under pressure and we kept them under pressure.

"Jon Walters was a catalyst for a lot of it. What Jon does when he's playing wide on the right hand side or up front, he attempts to get hold of the ball which is very, very important."

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