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'Naismith refereed the game for most of it' - O'Neill unhappy with officiating

The Ireland manager was also disappointed with his team’s failure to close down Shaun Maloney.

Naismith squares up to James McClean.
Naismith squares up to James McClean.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

IRELAND MANAGER MARTIN O’Neill has expressed his frustration with some of the officiating during Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Scotland.

O’Neill hinted that Scottish midfielder Steven Naismith had influenced referee Nicola Rizzoli, but didn’t go as far as to single out the Italian official, who was in charge of last summer’s World Cup final, for criticism.

“I’m not surprised Gordon (Strachan) thought that (the referee had a good game),” said O’Neill. “Naismith refereed the game along with him for most of it so I’m sure he did. That wouldn’t have been the view in our dressing room.

After controlling the first half, Ireland conceded an equaliser two minutes after the break via Shaun Maloney’s deflected effort and O’Neill believes his players had ample opportunities to shut out the danger.

I thought we were very dominant in the first half and we deserved to be in front,” he said. “We have absolutely fallen asleep for the goal, even though it is going miles wide.

“We should have closed it down on three different occasions and it would have gone wide but it has hit John on the back and gone into the net.

“Scotland got a big lift from that and their best spell was the ten minute spell after that. But we pulled ourselves around and I thought we would win it at the end. We didn’t and I’m obviously disappointed.”

Martin O'Neill Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

With four games remaining in the campaign, Ireland trail Poland by five, Germany by four and the Scots by two points.

“Naturally, the advantage is with Scotland as the status quo remains,” he added. “They must be delighted to get away with something in the game. Having said that, we are still well in the group and this is not just fighting bravado talk.

“We’ve got to take the two games in September and see where that takes us by the time we come into the Germany game.”

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