Mick McCarthy told his Republic of Ireland players not to be too hard on themselves after seeing them struggle to kill off battling Gibraltar.
Ireland ultimately ran out 2-0 winners in their Euro 2020 qualifier at the Aviva Stadium on Monday evening to establish a five-point gap at the top of Group D, although Denmark and Switzerland both have games in hand.
The second half of the Republic’s programme, which resumes at home to the Swiss in September, is likely to be significantly more taxing.
Although the hoped-for deluge of goals against the group’s lowest-ranked side failed to materialise, McCarthy was quick to dispel any sense of disappointment at the result.
He said: “We’ve got 10 points. I was amazed, actually, by the reaction to just winning 2-0. I went to the dressing room and they’ve got the feeling.
“I said, ‘Come on lads, we’ve had a great three weeks, we got four points’. We’d all have been happy with it.
“Would they have been happy with it before we started? Yes, so sorry lads, I ain’t going to be miserable about it. I’m off on my holidays with 10 points.”
Ireland had hoped to follow up their creditable 1-1 draw in Denmark on Friday evening with a resounding win, but although they dominated possession, Gibraltar at times gave them a taste of their own medicine with a resilient defensive display.
Indeed, all they had to show for their efforts as the clock ticked into stoppage time at the end of the game was Joseph Chipolina’s own goal after the defender inadvertently deflected David McGoldrick’s 29th-miunute effort past keeper Kyle Godwin when the initial shot had been missing the target by some distance.
Substitute Robbie Brady added a late second with a header from James McClean’s cross to cement the win, but the Republic’s inability to break down a stubborn rearguard was a concern.
McCarthy said: “When you’ve had that amount of shots crosses and balls in the box, I’d like to have scored more goals.
“I’d like to have scored more so yes, we weren’t as good as the players would have liked to be, they were disappointed.
“Maybe I should congratulate them [Gibraltar] for being so belligerent and stubborn and defending well, but we were pretty wasteful.
“So, we’ll work at it, we’ll continue to work at it – but I’d have taken 10 points beforehand.”
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