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'Win the game' - Darren Randolph on Martin O'Neill's pre-match team talk

The Irish team avoided the temptation of playing for a 0-0 draw against Bosnia last night.

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg.
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

MARTIN O’NEILL HAD three simple words of advice ahead of last night’s Euro 2016 play-off second leg: ‘win the game’.

With the 1-1 draw secured in Zenica viewed by most as a positive result, many suspected it would be a backs-to-the-wall performance by the Irish team, with a 0-0 draw enough to secure qualification.

However, Martin O’Neill vowed to attack the Bosnians, and the team were true to his word, as they earned a 2-0 victory at the Aviva Stadium last night.

And goalkeeper Darren Randolph revealed that O’Neill’s message was straightforward ahead of the team’s pivotal match.

“Our instructions were to win the game – ‘We need a win’. I can’t remember anything else,” he said.

“You can’t afford to sit back. I think that’s one of the things we didn’t want to do — try to protect a lead — because if they get a goal, then they can sit back and we have to break them down and score twice. If you can score twice it puts the pressure back on them and you can go and play your own game.

“I’d like to think that we put them under pressure. Obviously we got the away goal in the first leg so they knew they had to come out and try to get a goal. But I’m not in their changing room or in their heads.”

Defensive solidity has been a key component of Ireland’s success throughout this campaign, and Randolph says the side were determined to retain their excellent record at the back last night.

“We knew we had to be switched on and stay concentrated for the whole game, because they only need one chance to score with the quality they have, so over the two legs, we needed to be switched on and help each other out.

“I didn’t feel too relaxed, I can tell you. This is what you dream about. Who knows it might be the only one I ever get to so you never know. We need to take the opportunities when they come and luckily enough tonight all the boys put a shift in and got us there in the end.”

Randolph also paid tribute to the side’s resilience, with the Irish team at one point in the campaign looking unlikely to qualify.

“It’s not just even these two games, it’s since we were sitting in fourth place. The games against Georgia, Gibraltar, Germany and Poland and then these two games we have shown that we can play and the character and mental toughness that we have.

“I don’t know if many people would have seen us going from fourth place in the group to qualifying, but again, with the results comes confidence and a little bit more belief. Slip ups from other teams gives you another bit of confidence and you can go out there and perform and anything’s possible.”

Here’s how tonight’s remaining playoff games will impact Ireland’s Euro 2016 group>

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Paul Fennessy

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