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O'Neill: Our spirit won us a point


Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill

MARTIN O'Neill wore a grin as big as the Veltins Arena after John O'Shea's injury time marvel in Gelsenkirchen threw the door to France wide open.

"We were backs to the wall in the first half. We had formulated a plan that we would try and thwart them as much as we can while at the same time, when we had the ball ourselves, try and manoeuvre it. We were unable to do that for periods in the first half, we seemed to be under pressure," he said.

O'Neill (below) threw away his script after Toni Kroos edged the Germans in front and even sent O'Shea up as an auxiliary striker and had no fear of conceding again in pursuit of an equaliser.

"Even if we concede two, three, four I don't care, as long as we try and get something from the game. And to the very, very end we kept going. Our spirit carried us through," he added.

And O'Shea?

"You couldn't have written that script for him. He gets the goal and I'm absolutely delighted for him. He's got a hundred caps now and that's no mean feat," said O'Neill.

"We had to withstand a bit of pressure, but we knew that would happen. Our idea was to threaten them, to use the ball better than we did in the first half.

"At half-time, I felt we were reasonably okay. They scored a goal - we should have closed it down a couple of times - and then what was the point of losing the game if you can't kind of go for it?

"There's always a chance. It was a fantastic effort from the team, really really fantastic. We just never gave up. We kept going. I never felt, funnily enough, that we were out of the game after we conceded the goal. That's of great credit to the players."

Jogi Loew could only seethe quietly in his seat when he faced the German media. He has big problems now and everyone in the room knew it.

"It is extremely annoying for us not to have won the game. Ireland basically had one single chance and in the final second of the game, managed to equalise," he said.

"On the other hand, if there's anyone to blame, the blame has to be on us. Something like that shouldn't have happened in the dying seconds of the game.

"We lost possession too easily, we misplaced passes, we passed too often back to Neuer. Despite being 1-0 up, we showed a lot of nervousness in the game, we stopped controlling the game and gave too many chances to the opponents. We let them rise again.

"There is a little bit missing from some of them, but next year we will be better and we will bounce back."