It might have taken a while for the goals to come but Martin O’Neill was happy his team’s 4-0 win in Faro, coming hard on the heels of Scotland slipping up in Georgia, capped off a good night for Ireland in European Championship qualifying Group D.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I said before that any team going to Tbilisi was going to find it difficult. There wasn’t any big cheer in the dressing room when the result came through but I’m sure it gave the players a lift. I don’t think there was ever going to be a lack of focus but it certainly rekindled our focus because, regardless of that result, we had to win here.
“And I was concerned about this game because Gibraltar have improved and I think they showed that before half-time when they might have got an equaliser – Shay made a good save and Cyrus Christie got an important touch to a cross - but we won well in the end.
“I saw a bit of Georgia against Scotland and no doubt the Georgians will now have a bit of renewed spirit about them but we go back to Dublin in good spirits.”
O’Neill had praise for Christie who scored on his competitive debut but he added that he hopes to have Seamus Coleman back in contention for the Aviva on Monday.
“Seamus was feeling his hamstring yesterday when we were doing a bit of work in the stadium,” he explained.
“Nothing’s gone but he was concerned enough for me not to want to take a chance. Young Christie came in and had a big impact for us but Seamus Coleman is a class player and I would love if he’s available Monday.”
O’Neill said he thought that two-goal man Robbie Keane was looking a bit tired when he opted to bring him off, just short of a third goal that would have seen him tie with German legend Gerd Muller in 12th place on the all-time world scoring charts.
“I didn’t realise that was the case until just after the game,” said the manager. “That’s fantastic at international level.”
For his part, Keane remarked: “We said before the game we had to be patient, we knew it was going to be difficult. They are a very different team from when we first played them so all credit to them. There’s still a long way to go but we got the job done. Monday will be a massive game. The three points in Georgia at the start of the campaign could be massive.”
Cyrus Christie broke the deadlock and it proved an important strike as it helped open the floodgates en route to Ireland claiming their victory. “I’m delighted to score such an important goal,” Christie said.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game for us as we knew they were going to sit off and make it difficult for us. I managed to get a goal for us and the lads took it on from there.
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