Martin O’Neill believes all is not lost despite the Republic of Ireland’s first 2018 World Cup qualifying defeat, writes Ger McCarthy.
“I thought we played very, very well,” the Republic of Ireland manager stated on RTÉ.
“It was a really, really great effort by the team. We thought we could win it in the second half but they got a little break just after half-time.
“Obviously, we have thrown caution to the wind to try and get something out of the game but it eventually eluded us. But, we are far from beaten. The last two games, we must win. If we can beat Moldova then it sets us up for the final game away to Wales which we will have to win.”
O’Neill’s changes to the starting line-up had the desired effect including David Meyler and Wes Hoolahan who both starred in midfield.
“I thought the whole team played very well in the first half,” commented O’Neill.
“Wes manoeuvred the ball excellently for us. The hour was about as much as he could do. Meyler was excellent as well, really good for us and commanding for us in the middle of the field.
“Obviously, I am disappointed with the result but we are genuinely not finished in this competition.”
Meyler insists Ireland are still in a good position to qualify for Russia.
Meyler, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “We can’t have too many regrets. We poured our heart and soul into the performance and gave it everything.
“We deserved something from the game, probably three points, but we couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.”
Ireland still have to play Moldova and then Wales in a potentially crucial final group-stage fixture in October in Cardiff. Meyler added: “We are hugely disappointed but we have been in this situation before, our aim is to win those two games and I believe we will.”