Friday 23 March 2018

Robbie Brady warns Republic's rivals about difficult Belgrade

Robbie Brady, centre, believes Belgrade is a tricky place to go
Robbie Brady, centre, believes Belgrade is a tricky place to go

Robbie Brady left Serbia satisfied with a hard-earned point while predicting trouble for the Republic of Ireland's Group D rivals in Belgrade.

Martin O'Neill's men survived a Serbian blitz in a game which seesawed in difficult conditions at the Rajko Mitic Stadium to emerge with a 2-2 draw and a first point for their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Brady, who has grown increasingly influential for the Republic in the last year, was happy to have got off to a positive start as he contemplates a prolonged battle with Serbia, Wales, Austria, Georgia and Moldova for a trip to Russia in 2018.

Asked about O'Neill's reaction after the final whistle, he said: "He was happy with the result. He knew it was a difficult place to come and he is happy with the 2-2.

"We have to move on now because we have got a lot of big games, but we didn't want this to be a night where we looked back and thought we should have probably got something and come away with a 2-1 defeat.

"We stuck at it and got the draw, which is not the worst result in the world. I don't think many people are going to enjoy coming here, so for us to get a point and move on is okay in my eyes."

Ireland could hardly have got off to a better start when Brady's former St Kevin's Boys team-mate Jeff Hendrick fired them into a third-minute lead with his first senior international goal, but on a pitch made treacherous by heavy and persistent rain, that was far from the end of the story.

Filip Kostic levelled with 62 minutes played and when Dusan Tadic converted a penalty five minutes later, the visitors looked to be in trouble.

However, having seen a Jonathan Walters effort ruled out for offside, substitute Daryl Murphy struck with a bullet header 10 minutes from time to end his 24-game wait for a first Ireland goal.

Brady said: "I think it's a deserved point. It was a difficult night and we knew it would be, the circumstances of tonight's game with the pitch, the rain.

"Yesterday we went for a walk and it was roasting hot, so we all got a bit of a shock when we opened the curtains and it was lashing down and there was talk of a pitch inspection.

"We trained on it yesterday and it was cutting up, so we knew it was going to be a tough night, it wasn't going to be a night to be playing football.

"But we stuck at it when they went 2-1 up and to pull a goal back showed a bit of character from us and it was a good result and a good point away from home."

The game was Ireland's first since inspirational skipper Robbie Keane retired from international football after making 146 appearances and scoring 68 goals.

That meant the number 10 shirt was available and it was 24-year-old Norwich midfielder Brady, one of the stars of the nation's encouraging Euro 2016 finals campaign, who was handed the honour of wearing it.

However, he revealed it came with a challenge he may find difficult to fulfil.

Brady said: "It's a massive honour. When it was available, I fancied it.

"I want to do well, I wanted to wear it.

"I just sent Robbie a little text. I said: 'I'll try not to do too much damage to it', and he said: 'Don't worry, you only need to score 69 goals'.

"He's happy I have it and congratulated me, so I'm hoping to go from strength to strength and hopefully put in some more good performances for Ireland."

Press Association

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