Sport Soccer

Friday 23 March 2018

Coleman: Draw in Stockholm meaningless if we don't beat Austria

Andy Hampson

Defender Seamus Coleman claims the Republic of Ireland's creditable draw in Sweden will count for nothing if they fail to beat Austria next week.

Ireland kept their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil alive as they held the Swedes in a goalless encounter at Stockholm's Friends Arena.

They slipped to fourth in the Group C qualifying standings as a result, but they are just a point behind the second-placed Swedes and now face the team in third, Austria, in Dublin on Tuesday.

Coleman said: "It was a good point and a good performance. We can bring that on to Tuesday now.

"It has set us up nicely for the game against Austria, but a point will mean nothing if we can't finish it off on Tuesday night.

"There is no better feeling than going into that game after a good performance and a good point, and if we can finish it off it will have been a good week."

Ireland fully deserved their draw and dominated the opening 20 minutes of the game.

Sweden had the more clear-cut chances, but Millwall goalkeeper David Forde made three superb saves.

The 33-year-old kept out a Tobias Hysen volley, palmed away an awkward Kim Kallstrom free-kick which Andreas Granqvist may have touched and showed good reflexes to deny Rasmus Elm in the last minute.

Coleman said: "He was brilliant. He came for corners and caught everything.

"It was a massive save at the end. It would have been a kick in the teeth if that had gone in but I thought he had a great night.

"I thought we kept them quiet and played when we had the chance.

"We handled them well and maybe they weren't expecting us to play like we did.

"We have got some good ball-players and that showed - especially James McCarthy. He kept looking for the ball a lot and kept us ticking over."

Wigan midfielder McCarthy fully justified his selection by driving the Irish team forward throughout the game.

The 22-year-old was controversially omitted when manager Giovanni Trapattoni initially named his team on Thursday, but he took his chance after Glenn Whelan pulled out injured.

With the much-maligned Paul Green providing the defensive cover in midfield required, the likes of James McClean and Coleman provided strong threat from the flanks.

Coleman feels he is producing some of his best football after a number of influential displays for Everton recently, particularly against Manchester City last week.

The 24-year-old said: "I feel good and feel comfortable in my proper position.

"I have always felt I am a right-back and I am getting a good run of games for club and country in that position.

"The manager likes me to get forward. That is a big part of my game.

"But sometimes you have got to think a point is a good result and there were times when stayed back and let the lads do it.

"It was about being solid more than anything but if anyone was going to win it it looked like we could have."


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