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Republic of Ireland’s Martin O’Neill says ‘advantage is with Scotland’

Martin O’Neill expressed his frustration after his Republic of Ireland team failed to take advantage of a Scotland side in “disarray” during the pair’s Euro 2016 qualifying tie in Dublin.

Ireland led 1-0 at the interval courtesy of a Jon Walters goal. They were clearly the dominant force at that juncture. Yet Scotland hit back within a minute of the restart, Shaun Maloney’s shot taking a deflection off John O’Shea and beyond Shay Given. The point is of more use to Scotland, who are two ahead of Ireland in Group D.

“We had a lot of pressure, a lot of corner kicks, but we have to try to turn that into goals,” O’Neill said. “Naturally the advantage is to Scotland because the status quo in the group remains. They must be delighted to get away with something from the game. But we are still well in the group. That is not just bravado talk.”

O’Neill fired a broadside at the Italian referee, Nicola Rizzoli, who had been praised by the Scotland manager, Gordon Strachan. “I am not surprised at that,” O’Neill said. “I am not surprised Gordon thought that. [Steven] Naismith [the Scotland forward] refereed the game for most of it so I am sure he did but that wouldn’t have been the view in our dressing room.”

Strachan refused to dwell on the Ireland goal, which was clearly offside. “I’m going to get back on the plane, have a cup of tea and I’m not really interested in whether it was offside or not,” he said. “We were far better in the second half. We couldn’t get our system working at the start. Whether that was down to Ireland pressing, their physical strength, maybe it was our lack of match fitness.

“But there were seven or eight passes where you expect the players to pass to each other and they just gave it away, it goes down the pitch and you get a series of crosses.”


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