Wednesday 17 January 2018

Martin O’Neill: 'The goals we conceded were poor and we gave the ball away cheaply'

Republic of Ireland head coach Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland head coach Martin O'Neill Newsdesk Newsdesk

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has admitted that the goals conceded were “poor” and Ireland gave the ball away too "cheaply" to trouble Belgium.

Speaking in the wake of Ireland’s three-nil defeat to Belgium, O’Neill said he was disappointed with how the Republic of Ireland defended.

“Their first goal was a big, big moment in the match. It comes from our free kick.

"We should have dealt with it better than we did. But in the first half, unlike in the Sweden game, we were unable to keep the ball. We had it and we gave it away too easily. If we had taken the confidence in from the Sweden game, we should have dealt with it better. That was disappointing."

He said that Ireland need to adopt a different mentality when it comes to defending

“An Italian player did that the other night [took a yellow card] and he had absolutely no hesitation doing it. In that particular situation – if we are being outnumbered – then it is something that we might need to do. A professional foul. But if it’s not totally in your nature, then that’s it.

O’Neill would not be drawn on whether Shane Long should have had a penalty after being kicked in the head in the Belgium penalty box just before Roman Lukaku's opener.

“I haven’t seen it back but I’m not sure the referee was ever going to give it."

He paid tribute to a “fine Belgium” team.

"Belgium have a few players who hang back from things and they have the capabilities of hitting you hard. Even at 1-0, we are still in the game but it becomes very stretched because we are trying to get back into it. Their second goal came from a break away.”

The Republic of Ireland manager admitted that he always believed “we’d have to win a game to progress and that hasn’t changed.

“When we were talking about the potential of coming out of the group, we always said we would have to win a game so that is the most important thing. So why shouldn’t it be the last one.

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