Saturday 24 February 2018

Goal hero backs Ireland to top group ahead of key Russian clash

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

KEVIN Doyle, man of the match against Andorra, can't look forward to Russia with love, but the Wolves' hitman certainly is confident about Ireland's chances in their next qualifying game.

The Wexford native, who scored his ninth goal in 36 international appearances last night, was satisfied with the six points gained in Ireland's first two European Championship qualifiers and is now looking forward to the next challenge.

"We've two tough games coming up, Russia and Slovakia, so we're really getting to the meat of the group then and we'll see how we go," he said.

"On paper Russia are the strongest team, but maybe Slovakia and ourselves are surprising everyone.

"We've got a great chance of topping the group. We knew that before and we've put ourselves in a very good position after two games. Russia's defeat could work both ways. Maybe they'll be down in confidence, maybe they'll be wounded and up for it.

"A draw would probably have been better for us, but they got beaten. They were hot favourites going into it, but we'll push on with what we can do.


"We have a great opportunity to get three points playing them at home, so that's what we will be aiming for."

Doyle scored a beauty and felt he was due a penalty when he was hauled down in the box midway through the second half.

On another day he would have been seriously aggrieved, but it was all right on the night.

"A penalty? Yes, I'm pretty sure on that. It was a rugby tackle, but we won. It doesn't matter now," he said.

Kevin Kilbane, who opened the scoring with a rare headed goal, wasn't panicked by the shock Andorra goal just before half-time.

"You can't really do much like things like that in football, a shot from 25 yards -- you just have to hold your hands up and carry on.

"Once we got the third I thought we could have got more, but I think we have to be happy with the 3-1 result really," he said.

Midfielder Glenn Whelan was disappointed to be taken off in the second half, although he understood the manager's decision, as he was already on a yellow card.

"There was a doubt I was even going to play, but I was disappointed because I want to get as many minutes as I can. But the manager knows best and these are the games we have got to win.

"We got our three points and are glad that's over with, but we know the next two games are massive for us if we want to qualify," he said.

Irish Independent

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