Saturday 10 December 2016

John O'Shea: We'll dust ourselves down and get ready for Italy in Lille

Tom Rooney

Published 18/06/2016 | 17:39

John O'Shea tackles Romelu Lukaku /Getty Images
John O'Shea tackles Romelu Lukaku /Getty Images

Ireland skipper John O’Shea was both candid and methodical in his assessment of Ireland’s lopsided loss to Belgium and, even now, is looking ahead to their must-win encounter with Italy.

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John O’Shea has enjoyed vertiginous highs and deflating lows during his time in the Irish jersey so it was hardly surprising that his reaction to Belgium’s 3-0 victory was composed and lucid.

Ireland were carved open on three occasions in the second half and, each time, Belgium scored.

Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace and Axel Wistel registered a thumping header to cast Ireland’s chances of progression from the group into serious jeopardy.

Lukaku’s first and Wistel’s follow up were the direct result of searing counter attacks, though Ireland’s structure was too easily breached.

Having withstood the Belgian assault in the opening 45 minutes, O’Shea said Ireland hoped to turn the tables at the beginning of the second, though Lukaku had found the net within three minutes of the restart.

Essentially, they had hoped to replicate their fluency against Sweden.

“The big thing for us was to make sure we started the second half that bit quicker, that bit better in possession and we didn’t do that.

“We left ourselves too open to that counter attack. Look, Belgium are a good team, don’t get me wrong, but we have a big chance now against Italy.

“Patches of the first half were ok, but not good enough in terms of how we played against Sweden and good we were on the ball. That clinical edge in terms of keeping our shape, keeping compact, especially when we’re attacking, that’s something we’re going to have to improve on.”

A win over Italy could see Ireland qualify from the group in third place, or depending how Belgium fare against Sweden, in second. 

However, anything less would likely signal elimination. As such, O’Shea was looking to next Wednesday’s do-or-die contest against the unbeaten group winners.

“We know it’s difficult, Italy are a good team, but if we take the positives from the first half today and against Sweden and keep out discipline we might get something out of the game.

“We’ll dust ourselves down, see how everybody is and think about Italy in Lille.”

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