Ireland 1 Croatia 3: We must retain belief despite loss, says Trapattoni

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni tells his players to believe they can still reach the quarter-finals, despite 3-1 loss to Croatia

Rep of Ireland
1
Croatia
3

Giovanni Trapattoni told his Republic of Ireland players they must believe they can still reach the quarter-finals after his side were stunned by Croatia in their Group C opener on Sunday.

Mario Mandzukic gave Croatia the lead in the third minute after he capitalised on shoddy Irish marking to place his header past goalkeeper Shay Given.

Trapattoni’s side regrouped following the early set-back and Sean St Ledger got on the end of Aiden McGeady’s free-kick to equalise in the 19th minute, but Nikica Jelavic put Slaven Bilic’s side in front with half-time approaching.

Any hope of an Irish comeback was extinguished two minutes after the interval, when Mandzukic’s shot rebounded off the post and then Given’s head to seal three points for Croatia, with Trapattoni’s side unable to overturn the two-goal deficit.

“It’s difficult to clarify what happened,” said Trapattoni. “We conceded a goal after two minutes and I don’t know if this affected us psychologically.

“We changed some players in the second half and we were better but unfortunately we never scored a second. We have to still believe as Spain against Italy was a draw.”

St Ledger, who became only the third Irish player to score at a European championship, admitted their defending was uncharacteristically poor.

“We conceded sloppy goals. Unlike us. We are usually pretty tight,” said St Ledger.

“We knew in the second half we had to come out. The next goal was going to be important and they got it. When you are 3-1 down against a side like Croatia it is always going to be tough. They were poor goals to concede.”

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