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‘I was very concerned about Gibraltar game’

The Ireland manager was speaking after seeing his side earn a comprehensive win last night.

Martin O'Neill's side sit third in Group D following last night's win over Gibraltar.
Martin O'Neill's side sit third in Group D following last night's win over Gibraltar.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL EXPRESSED relief after Ireland secured a comprehensive 4-0 win over Gibraltar in last night’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Faro.

The visitors ultimately won comfortably, but it was not always straightforward, as the Boys in Green had to wait until the 26th minute before opening the scoring.

“I’m delighted,” O’Neill told RTÉ after the match. “Gibraltar have been improving. I thought their first-half performance against Germany was absolutely outstanding — it could have been one-each [at half-time].

“I was very concerned about the game. There were lots of twists and turns in it.”

O’Neill acknowledged that the victory was especially important, after qualification rivals Scotland slipped up earlier in the evening.

“That game that Scotland had in Georgia was always going to be difficult,” he said. “So we had to make sure we got the three points tonight. The attitude was great from the players. Obviously, Cyrus Christie’s goal and his back-header to stop them equalising were two big moments in the game. Then we’ve gone on in the second half and done very well.”

The Ireland boss singled out the performance of 22-year-old Cyrus Christie, who was making his competitive debut for Ireland, though the Derry native suggested Coleman was likely to return to the side if fit for Monday’s encounter with Georgia.

“We’ll look to see how Seamus is. Seamus is an absolutely class full-back, but Cyrus has done himself proud tonight, and he’s there if Seamus doesn’t make it. So we’ll see how it goes.”

The 63-year-old coach also praised his attackers for their contribution over the course of the game.

“I thought Jon Walters was outstanding and Robbie [Keane] is capable of scoring goals. I’m delighted for Shane Long as well. He’s come on and made an immediate impact and that’ll help his confidence.”

Looking forward to Georgia on Monday at the Aviva Stadium, O’Neill expects another big challenge from the side that were only beaten following a piece of injury-minute brilliance from Aiden McGeady when the teams last met.

“We have to try to win that game. It won’t be easy — Georgia will come on a high. It’s a great victory for them tonight and there’s a renewed spirit about them. But we have to deal with it.

“Poland have been pretty strong but Germany are certainly the best team in the group by a country mile, as they should be being world champions. There are three games left but it seems as if there are a million miles to go.”

Northern Ireland are one win away from reaching Euro 2016>

‘I’m not the most prolific!’ – Cyrus Christie talks us through his first Ireland goal>

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Paul Fennessy

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