Sport Soccer

Saturday 24 March 2018

Austria were there for taking – Coleman

Liam Kelly and Ruaidhri O'Connor

SEAMUS Coleman's weary expression spoke volumes for the atmosphere in the Irish dressing-room after the late horror-show that saw Austria escape with a point from last night's Aviva Stadium clash.

Everton's Coleman and his defensive colleagues had coped well with a late wave of Austrian attacks only to see David Alaba's devastating strike deflate the Irish hopes.

"It's very disappointing. We tried to hold out and get all three points, but we were killed by a sucker-punch at the end," said Coleman.

"Austria probably were there for the taking. Their 'keeper made a great save from a corner. It's a bitter feeling at the minute, it's very hard to take, but we've got to move on."

Coleman (right) wasn't in analysis mode as to what exactly went wrong to allow Austria to equalise.

He added: "I don't know. It's just one of those things. It was a good strike from the edge of the box and I think it took a deflection.

"They were piling on a bit of pressure and maybe it was destined to come, but it was disappointing for us. I thought we had done enough to win.

"We did all right on the night and we thought we were going to finish off with three points but we didn't.

"It's heartbreaking, but that's football unfortunately."

Conor Sammon echoed Coleman's sentiments, but hailed strike partner Shane Long as "brilliant."

"Having played with him in the Poland game I was really looking forward to playing with him," said Sammon.

"We spoke beforehand about me trying to win the flick-ons for Shane to get in behind me, because he has so much pace and he did really well to win that penalty.

"He was very unlucky with that chance that came off the post. On another night that goes in or comes back out for a tap-in."

Giovanni Trapattoni substituted Long, saying he was tired, and Sammon didn't question the manager's decision.

"I've no idea why he (Shane) came off," said Sammon.

For his part, Long described the result as "fairly devastating."

"It would have been a big three points for us, but we can't let it get us down too much. We are disappointed, but we will have to push on and get over it," said Long.

"After we got the second, I thought we would go on and get a third and kick on."

Long accepted that Ireland had tried to shut up shop, and that it ended up costing them.

"I suppose it's a natural thing to do with 20 minutes to go to drop off and try to hold on to your lead," he said.

"It's a bit of a sucker-punch for us. When it's in your hands, you need to make sure you hold on to it."

Ireland's goalscorer Jonathan Walters was frank in his assessment of the game and admitted that Trapattoni's side now must beat Sweden at home and Austria away to qualify for next year's World Cup.

And he believes some more street smarts could have aided Ireland's cause.

"Maybe a sub in the last minute would have killed the game off, but it's all ifs and buts at the end of the day, we came away with one point and not three and it's not good enough," he said.

The late goal robbed Ireland of two crucial points, but also undid the good work that the squad have built in recent days, according to the 29-year-old.

"It does, yeah, there are a lot of players who haven't had a lot of games who've come into the squad and some good performances, especially in Sweden where we defended really well," he said

"They are the fine lines in football, that last-minute goal, and if it hadn't happened it would have been all cheers now."

Irish Independent

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