Rep of Ireland 1 Serbia 2: Lots to be happy about, insists Martin O’Neill
Rep of Ireland 1 Serbia 2 Martin O'Neill looks to the positives after suffering the first loss of his reign at The Aviva
Martin O’Neill insisted that the Republic of Ireland had lots to be genuinely happy about despite suffering the first loss of his reign to Serbia at Aviva Stadium.
The home side made a bright start and had the ball in the next within two minutes but Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan was ruled to have touched Glenn Whelan’s shot into the net from an offside position – replays showed the goal should have stood.
We’re disappointed to lose the game and we made a number of substitutes. But overall, lots to be genuinely happy about
However, O’Neill’s men did take the lead six minutes later as Shane Long capitalised on a mix up and slotted his 11th Ireland goal past Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
But the home side failed to kick on from Long’s opener as the Hull City striker missed two promising opportunities either side of half-time. And Ireland paid the price within 15 second-half minutes.
Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross was turned past Ireland goalkeeper David Forde by James McCarthy, before Serbia striker Filip Dordevic scored the winner following more sloppy Irish defending.
“We started very brightly,” O’Neill said.
“We scored a very good goal. We had a great opportunity to go 2-0 up and at international level that would have been a good moment for us.
“We had done very well up until half-time. We were hesitant in the second half which allowed them into the game. I thought we lost our way for a little bit. That said, during the period, we could have been 2-0 up.
“We’re disappointed to lose the game and we made a number of substitutes. But overall, lots to be genuinely happy about.”
O’Neill admitted that he was surprised to see in-form Hull City striker Long miss two clear cut openings either side of half-time at Lansdowne Road.
“It was a terrific ball by Wes,” O’Neill added.
“With his confidence being high, I thought he might have taken that another yard or two and put it in.
“I think he’s frustrated that he could easily have scored a hat-trick.”