Thursday 27 October 2016

Belgrade draw could prove to be 'big point' in qualification bid

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Reuters
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Reuters

Martin O'Neill believes it would be dangerous to underestimate the value of the point that his team secured in Serbia on Monday night.

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The Irish boss was delighted to come away from Belgrade with a 2-2 draw and does not subscribe to the view that it was a missed opportunity. He is confident that Serbia will take points from the other qualification contenders that visit their patch. It's a theory that will be tested next month when Austria visit the Marakana.

Wales, the top seeds, will travel to the Serbian capital next summer.

O'Neill feels that Daryl Murphy's late header could prove as important as Aiden McGeady's last-minute winner in Georgia that kicked off the Euro 2016 campaign on a winning note.


The value of that goal was highlighted by Scotland's costly defeat in Tbilisi later in that cycle.

"I'm delighted with the point, delighted with the circumstances," said O'Neill. "I think if the (Serbian) crowd decide to get behind their team and support them in droves - which I've seen before here - then I think it will be difficult for the other teams.

"And far from ruling Serbia out, they've got some players to come back too. I'm delighted that we fought back and with the fact we created chances. We scored two goals away from home on a quagmire of a pitch against what I would consider to be very decent opposition. We're off the mark.

"This is a big point for us and we have to go and try and make use of it now in the upcoming games. Austria, who didn't perform to their ability in the Euros, have won away in Georgia and that's a big result for them."

Meanwhile, O'Neill said that the FAI have spoken to him about the possibility of a friendly game in November. Ireland are due to travel to Austria in that window and a friendly would offer some scope for experimentation.

Irish Independent

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