'We are capable of breaking Italy down and progressing' - Martin O'Neill
Published 18/06/2016 | 17:10
MARTIN O'NEILL has told his players to draw on the memories of the Sweden game and forget about a deserved defeat to Belgium as they prepare for a must-win game with Italy.
The Ireland manager had no complaints about the final outcome in Bordeaux this afternoon as the top seeds ran out comfortable 3-0 winners courtesy of a second half brace from Romelu Lukaku sandwiched by a header from man of the match Axel Witsel.
O'Neill acknowledged that Ireland's performance was disappointing with poor moments in possession allowing Marc Wilmots' side to dominate.
But ahead of flying back to the team base in Versailles, the 64-year-old stressed that his players must take a positive approach rather than wallowing in the defeat.
"You can start to feel very sorry for yourself and comiserate with your teammates or you can take confidence from how you've played four days ago and take that into the next game," said O'Neill.
"The most important thing is to re-appraise things as quickly as possible, put it to the side and try and go again. I don't think that's as difficult as it's looking from here."
The Irish boss said that his players believe his team should have been awarded a penalty for a foul on Shane Long in the run-up to Lukaku's opener.
However, he was reluctant to dwell on it. "Overall we were beaten by a better team," he said, "We created a lot of chances against Sweden in the game and, if we had taken a couple of those chances, really good chances in the match, we'd have been sitting here with three points on the board and a great chance of qualifying.
"We didn't create as much today against a very fine Belgian side. We are capable of breaking Italy down and we might only have to take the one chance. That might be enough. We just have to take our medicine now and get ourselves prepared."
Asked of Italy might take their foot off the gas after qualifying in top spot already, O'Neill added: " They are going to finish top of the group regardless. We have to look after ourselves. We have to win the game. We must go and try and win it.
"If you ended up unbeaten with three points that might have been enough.
"We have to throw absolutely everything into winning a game."