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Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Molde FK head coach Erling Moe applauds the fans after the game.
# Progress
Molde coach believes Irish football is 'on the way forward'
Erling Moe was impressed by Shamrock Rovers’ performance in Tallaght last night.

MOLDE BOSS Erling Moe praised Shamrock Rovers after his side earned a hard-fought 2-0 win in the Europa Conference League clash in Dublin on Thursday.

The 52-year-old former assistant to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded the hosts’ style of play and compared it favourably to Irish teams of the past.

“I’m not surprised because we have looked at them live before we met them,” he told reporters afterwards. “But in thinking about that, the level they showed today, that’s their level. It’s always difficult coming to us. But I think they impressed me with the style of play. They impressed me with individuals.

“As Norwegian is, I think Irish football also is on the way forward. I don’t know well enough, but my impression is if you know, some years back it was a different type of play in the Irish league. It was much more fighting, it was much more ‘let’s go to war’. And also with the Dundalk team, we played a couple of years ago, they’re doing the same as us. We see that we need to develop the football we are playing, being more occupied with getting more skills to the players and a style of play that can challenge everyone.”

The Hoops trailed 1-0 at half-time thanks to David Fofana’s controversial goal that should have been ruled offside.

However, the hosts easily could have led at the break, enjoying 65% possession in the first half and failing to convert a couple of decent chances.

While Moe said he had not seen the first goal back and therefore could not say whether it was offside, the manager admitted Rovers were superior to his men initially.

“I think we were a bit lucky in the first half. They were the best team. They outfought and outplayed us in the first half. Overall, I think with the chances we created, it was a good win for us but it was a tough one.”

He continued: “It’s a tough place to come. We prepared for what they came at us with in the first half, but I do not think we handled it that good

“In periods we did when we won the ball and got out on the other side quite fast. But too often, we played sideways and they came at us, so all credit to Shamrock Rovers for making it difficult for us. I think overall we see that we are quite good when given the opportunity. So we created some good chances on the counter-attack today, so overall away in Europe I’m quite happy with the 2-0 win.”

Like Rovers, Molde are deep into their league campaign with 25 games played and top of the table, though with a 15-point advantage over their nearest rivals, they are now virtually assured to win the title.

That healthy lead hasn’t stopped the Norwegian side from regularly rotating for European games, however, and it was two substitutes — Kristian Eriksen and Magnus Wolff — that combined for the all-important second goal.

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“I think I’ve been in the same position as your coach has been. I’ve changed a bit the teams also so it’s a tough one. You always want to put money in the bank so you know it’s there before you can let it go. It’s a difficult thing when you fight for a title in the home league because it’s so important now for club psychology because it makes it a lot easier to get into the group stages in three of [the European competitions] so that’s a big thing for us.

“It’s a little bit how we can do it now in this part of the season because the games are coming all the time, Thursday-Sunday, so we need to have fresh faces in both of those games so that we have players to come on and take the game home.

“We have game changers on our bench as well. These two [players who combined for the goal] had a really good spell when they came on. They could have taken it a bit more easy a couple of times. I think everyone did a good job. They didn’t meet up to the fight [initially] but they came more and more as the game went on. And I think we controlled the game a lot in the second half.”

Moe also noted the contrast with Rovers’ performance in Molde, when a much more conservative approach for the Irish team failed to pay dividends amid a deserving 3-0 loss.

“As you see when Shamrock came to us, they have a more defensive approach and when we come here, it’s a really bold approach with high pressing.

“So it’s two different games. The teams are attacking the games in different ways. Of course, I don’t think I say anything that’s not true when I say that Shamrock Rovers are a really good home team. It takes time to manage and learn from the away games as well. We’ve been struggling with the same thing ourselves, but we need to play a bit safer and not take those kinds of risks as you may be a bit more direct because they come higher in the pitch towards us, so it’s in how they approach the game [that's different home and away].”

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