Republic of Ireland: Martin O’Neill says side played with ‘panache’ in Moldova win

Martin O'Neill tries to calm Jonathan Walters are some vigorous Moldovan challenges late in the game

Martin O’Neill ran on the field to restrain Jonathan Walters as tempers flared late in the game

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill said his side played with “a bit of panache” in Sunday’s 3-1 World Cup qualifier win in Moldova.

Shane Long’s early Republic strike was cancelled out by a shock Igor Bugaev equaliser but two James McClean goals sealed the Irish team’s victory.

“We played excellently in the first half. We should have maybe been two or three in front,” said O’Neill.

“The goal knocked us back for a while. But we came around in the second half.”

The Republic’s win leaves them level on seven points with Group D leaders Serbia, who edged out Austria 3-2 in Belgrade, while Wales are two points off the pace after drawing 1-1 at home against Georgia.

Despite their fine start to the campaign, O’Neill says that there is a “long way to go” in the group.

“We’ve come through three difficult games. We’ve got seven points on the board but it’s too early to call yet. But it’s a nice start if nothing else.”

O’Neill said he was very disappointed by Moldova’s equaliser on the stroke of half-time after central defender Shane Duffy’s poor positioning left him exposed as Alexandru Gatcan’s long ball out of defence released Bugaev to shoot past Darren Randolph.

“It was a very poor goal from our point of view. Losing the ball three or four yards from their touchline and for them to score just before half-time was ludicrous.”


James McClean’s second-half goals sealed the Republic’s win in Moldova

McClean says Irish media must be ‘realistic’

Two-goal hero McClean called on the Irish media to more “realistic” following the criticism of the team after Thursday’s laboured 1-0 win over Georgia.

The Georgians’ draw with Wales in Cardiff on Sunday gave further strength to the West Brom winger’s argument.

“We got a lot of flak after the Serbia game and a lot of flak after the Georgia game,” said the Derryman.

“The Irish press especially they need a realisation … we’re not going to blow things away.

“We’ve always been a team that works hard and when has a win never been enough?”

McClean, 27, said he was “fortunate enough to be in the right position twice” for his second-half goals.

“I’m delighted – more so for the team than myself.”

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