Forlan backs Ireland to secure place at Euro 2012 top table
Published 30/03/2011 | 05:00
Uruguay star Diego Forlan believes Ireland can qualify for Euro 2012 after his side came out on top of a "hard" battle with Giovanni Trapattoni's men at the Aviva Stadium last night.
The Atletico Madrid forward was delighted that the World Cup semi-finalists were able to seal a valuable win as they work towards this summer's Copa America -- and he left impressed with a young Ireland side who never gave up and came close to a late equaliser.
Despite his initial concerns for the Lansdowne Road pitch, he was happy enough with how it played, and he backed his hosts to reach their holy grail of next year's finals in Ukraine and Poland when their experienced players return.
"Yes, they can qualify," he said. "It was a hard match, it was a really young team, but a strong side. We had chances to score and we won.
"It was good because we won, but it was a difficult game. Ireland had chances and we had ours, but the good thing was we came out on top. Ireland are a very good team with very good young players. The pitch was wet and the ball rolled well. It was not the best, but it was okay, it didn't affect any players."
Ireland's inexperienced side had a mixed night and nobody summed up their performance than penalty scorer Keith Fahey, who gave the ball away for Uruguay's third goal, but stepped up to bring his side back into the game.
And he made no apologies for his ambitious pass to Liam Lawrence that allowed impressive youngster Abel Hernandez score.
"I wouldn't beat myself up over that," he said. "I try to play football. I passed it inside, but it didn't get there. We want to play football. I was looking for Liam inside and I didn't see the fellah the other side of him."
For his part, Lawrence insisted he had no complaints about Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff being first choices ahead of him, but hoped his display last night kept them under pressure.
"I think tonight showed that we've a hungry set of young players and people that want to play and do well, and I think it's credit to the lads that played tonight," he said. "Aiden and Duffer played really well the other night. I've no quarrels about being out of the team."
One man who will never forget last night is Stephen Kelly who spoke of his pride in leading out the Boys in Green in his home town.
"Being from Dublin and growing up watching Ireland and playing for your country, for me is the epitome of everything, the highest accolade you can achieve in football.
"And then, to be captain ... it has just been a spectacular day for me. I can't wait to look back on it. This is such a huge honour and I am so privileged to be allowed do it."