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St Ledger: Referee right to rule out my strike

FOR a split second Sean St Ledger thought he had scored another marquee goal for Ireland, but a sharp-eyed linesman and an unfortunate touch from Simon Cox ruined his night at Yankee Stadium.

Spain were a goal in front courtesy of Roberto Soldado in the 68th minute, but St Ledger managed to bundle the ball into the back of the net after Stephen Kelly crashed a header off the bar with just eight minutes remaining and took off on a lung-bursting celebratory run.

Unfortunately, he hadn't seen the linesman's flag or Simon Cox who was in an offside position from Kelly's header and considered active when he touched the rebound.

"I went away celebrating, but it was actually a really good decision from the linesman, having seen it again. I think Coxy was offside from Stephen Kelly's header," said St Ledger.



"Obviously, Casillas touched it on to the bar. I don't know the rules these days, they keep changing and it's open to interpretation. On another day, you might have got it.

"About five minutes after I had scored, the linesman explained the decision.

"He could have told me earlier and I wouldn't have looked silly celebrating away!"

St Ledger reckoned that, despite the result, this performance was far better than a year ago in Gdansk.

"It was tough, like last time. To be fair, I thought we actually did a lot better than we did in Poland. They are an unbelievable side for hanging on to the ball, but they do that to nearly every team in the world. We watched highlights of the France game and the possession stats were probably nearly just the same as here, so it's not just us. They are a fantastic side and I can't see any other winners of the World Cup next year," he said.

"When you go in 0-0 at half-time, it's obviously a bonus. You are always up against it because they keep so much of the ball and you just hope you get a breakaway or you can maybe get a corner and hopefully get a goal.

"But they are a fantastic side. I can't speak highly enough of them.

"They wear you down. They keep so much of the ball. It's probably not as bad for the centre-halves as it is for the midfielders because they probably don't pass the ball into the strikers as much.

"It's all interchanging in the midfield and I felt for some of the boys in there, to be honest with you.

"They are a great side, but I think we can take confidence from the performance. It was a great experience to play in this stadium."

St Ledger feels that the run of results and a positive performance against Spain will set the team up well for the big World Cup qualifiers to come in the autumn.

"I looked at the table just before we got on the coach with Sweden beating the Faroes," he added.

"It's very tight and we know what's ahead of us, Sweden at home and Austria away and that's going to define the group now.

"I've seen them both. Our away performances have been very good under the manager and hopefully we can get the results.

"It would be great to finish second and then have a chance to get into the World Cup, which would be fantastic."