Sunday 22 September 2019

Lifeline goal few could see lifts hopes for Lansdowne decider

HAVEN’T THE FOGGIEST: Ireland’s goal hero Robbie Brady
HAVEN’T THE FOGGIEST: Ireland’s goal hero Robbie Brady

Claire Mc Cormack

It was the goal that very few could see but Robbie Brady's strike in the murk of Zenica could be worth €5 million to Irish soccer.

Close on 52,000 fans with high hopes will pack out the Aviva for tomorrow night's second-leg Euro 2016 play-off decider against Bosnia and Herzegovina but manager Martin O'Neill has admitted he could not see the crucial strike by Brady nine minutes from time on Friday night.

However, the sides were back level a couple of minutes later as Edin Dzeko fired past Darren Randolph in the Irish goal from close range.

Ireland will go into the second leg in Dublin as favourites thanks to their away goal but O'Neill admits that it could have been even better.

"It's still alive and obviously the goal has helped greatly but the concession of the goal towards the end has just put a dampener on things," he said.

"The pitch was very, very lively but we tried to cope with it as best we could and cope with the opposition at the same time, so we're still fighting."

He admitted that he didn't see Brady's goal as a thick fog enveloped the pitch and at times seemed to reduce visibility to a couple of yards.

When asked what he could see of the goal, the Derryman replied: "The answer is not a great deal. I was concerned at one stage in the second half just in case the game might be called off because of the fog.

"The linesman on our side said he could see things clearly, which was news to me at the time, but Robbie Brady has done brilliantly to score the goal and just for a few minutes give us real hope."

O'Neill is hoping John O'Shea, Jon Walters and Shane Long will be available for tomorrow.

O'Shea and Walters were banned for the first leg, but O' Shea could miss the crucial match because of a hamstring injury.

"Jon Walters is coming in and I hope nothing happens. He can play in terms of fitness." Long sat out Friday's game because of an ankle problem. "Shane hasn't ruled himself out," added O'Neill.

Sunday Independent

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