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Dublin: -1°C Thursday 15 April 2021

'We understand that pressure comes with the job and people won't be very happy with the performance'

Seamus Coleman gives his assessment of Ireland’s win over Gibraltar.

WHILE EXPRESSING HIS satisfaction with an encouraging yield from the first half of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, Ireland captain Seamus Coleman didn’t shy away from the reality of last night’s unconvincing 2-0 win over Gibraltar in Dublin.

The home side led from the 29th minute thanks to an own goal from Joseph Chipolina. A second goal finally arrived in stoppage time through substitute Robbie Brady, but it wasn’t enough to mask Ireland’s offensive struggles throughout the evening.

Seamus Coleman with Alain Pons Ireland's Seamus Coleman gets away from Alain Pons of Gibraltar. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“We probably could have been better. Everyone knows that. We could have performed a bit better. We got the 2-0 win,” Coleman said afterwards.

“I think we probably could have been a little bit more patient in the final third. We were very eager to try and score quickly instead of maybe keeping the ball, tiring them out and waiting for the right chance. I feel like every time we got it, we tried to score.

“Credit to Gibraltar — their manager and their players — because they’ve improved massively in a couple of years. In the second half our goalkeeper didn’t have much to do, but of course we know we can be better.”

He added: “I said it in the press conference yesterday, everyone was expecting 3-0, 4-0, 5-0, but we would never disrespect a team like that. We would have liked it to be better but it wasn’t.

“When it’s 1-0, anything can happen. Someone could slip at the back and let them in. But the lads stayed switched on to that. Darren [Randolph] didn’t have much to do in the second half. We won 2-0. Forget about this game, move on, 10 points and some big games coming up.”

Having taken three wins and one draw from their first four games, Ireland currently hold a five-point lead over Denmark at the summit of Group D. However, the Danes — who were 5-1 winners at home to Georgia last night — can close the gap with their game in hand.

Six points separate Ireland from third-placed Switzerland, who have played two games fewer than Mick McCarthy’s side. The Swiss will visit Dublin on 5 September when the campaign resumes for the Boys in Green.

“We know we’ve got some very tough games coming up and they’re going to be the deciding games. We’ve got a bit of a headstart,” said Coleman, whose side must also negotiate trips to Switzerland and Georgia, before concluding their qualifying bid at home to Denmark in November.

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The Ireland team The Ireland team pictured before last night's win against Gibraltar. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Hopefully we can perform well [against Switzerland], play on the front foot and make it difficult for them. I don’t think they’ll want to play us either so it’ll be interesting in September.”

Despite labouring to victory over Gibraltar last night, Coleman pointed to Friday’s 1-1 draw in Denmark as evidence that Ireland can raise their game against stronger opposition.

“We know people came here expecting to see some goals,” he said. “We would have loved that ourselves. It would have been great to score early and then get a second to put the game beyond them. We didn’t do that.

“We understand that pressure comes with the job and people won’t be very happy with the performance. But we’ve got 10 points from 12 and that’s how we look at it as professionals. The manager is happy with our points on the board.

“We’ve got some big games coming up and that’s where we’ll be tested. We went to Denmark and tried to play on the front foot. They played around us at times because they’ve got some quality, but I think sometimes it probably suits us playing against the bigger teams.”

The Everton full-back also dismissed any suggestions that Ireland’s preparations had been hampered when the team bus broke down en route to the Aviva Stadium from their hotel in Castleknock.

“It’s not ideal by any means, but we’re professional footballers playing for our country. Even if you arrive with 10 minutes to go, it shouldn’t be an excuse. You should have massive motivation playing for your country. If anyone uses that as an excuse I’d have to disagree with them.” 

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Paul Dollery

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