Giovanni Trapattoni tasted victory for the first time as Republic of Ireland boss after telling his players to dream.
The 69-year-old Italian saw his side ease past Portuguese minnows Lagos 3-1 at the Estadio Municipal a day after they drew 1-1 with Liga Vitalis side Portimonese, and was happy to see his first few days on the training pitch come to fruition.
Ireland face Serbia and Colombia in friendlies next month as they prepare to launch their World Cup qualifying campaign in Georgia in September.
Trapattoni knows there is much hard work to be done, but has reminded his players of Greece’s unexpected success at Euro 2004 as the perfect motivation for the task ahead.
He said: “I am a simple man and I dream always. I said to them today in the hotel, we have a dream, we have belief because four years ago, Greece was like Ireland – more or less.
“I am happy because I saw they realised my ideas. I told the players, ’We have to do that, we have to do that, we start the game like this’, and they did that.
“I am happy about that. I am extremely happy when they put into practice the ideas I have communicated to them.”
As promised, the Italian made full use of his squad, which had been boosted to 22 by the arrivals of Cardiff midfielder Stephen McPhail and Carlisle goalkeeper Kieren Westwood, with every player having now tasted action in Portugal.
Manchester-born Westwood, whose inclusion has not been met with universal approval in Ireland, made a vital late save to deny midfielder Vitinha a second goal for the home side.
Bohemians counterpart Brian Murphy has been quoted in Ireland expressing his concern about “Joe Soaps” finding their way into the squad, but Trapattoni was unrepentant.
He said: “I did not know him, but our scouts told me he played in the (Coca-Cola League One play-off) semi-final against Leeds and played two or three important games.
“We are looking at the young players. We have to look at all the possibilities.”
Trapattoni made four changes to the side that started yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Portimonese as keeper Joe Murphy, Glenn Whelan, Darren Potter and Andy Keogh got the nod.
But where they had laboured at times in Portimao, Ireland had already gone close twice through Keogh and Paul McShane when they took a ninth-minute lead.
Skipper for the night Damien Duff pulled a corner to the edge of the box for Whelan to send in a left-foot volley, which defender Uriel could only help into his own net.
Duff forced a 27th-minute save from keeper Toco and Kevin Doyle glanced a free header across the face of goal seconds later, before Potter extended his side’s lead on the half-hour with an audacious chip from 25 yards that Toco could only palm over the line.
Duff clipped the outside of the post with a curling left-foot shot nine minutes before the break, and then chipped wide with just the keeper to beat within seconds of the restart.
Stephen Hunt hit the post as Ireland threatened to cut loose, but Lagos dragged themselves back into it when captain Marco Carmo stabbed home Vitinha’s 52nd-minute cross from close range.
However, Keogh restored his side’s two-goal advantage after Duff had carved his way into the penalty area three minutes later and substitute Daryl Murphy was denied a fourth first by the post and then by defender Diogo on the line with 17 minutes remaining.