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 went on to the pitch to restrain Jonathan Walters as tempers flared late in the game

Republic of Ireland played with "a bit of panache" during Sunday's 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory in Moldova, said manager Martin O'Neill.

Shane Long's early strike for the Republic was cancelled out by an Igor Bugaev equaliser, but two James McClean goals secured a second successive win.

"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. Wales are two points back after drawing 1-1 with Georgia in Cardiff.

O'Neill acknowledged his side had made a "nice start" to the campaign, but added there was a "long way to go".

"We've come through three difficult games," he said. "We've got seven points on the board but it's too early to call."

O'Neill said he was very disappointed by Moldova's equaliser on the stroke of half-time, with central defender Shane Duffy exposed as Alexandru Gatcan's long ball released Bugaev to shoot past Darren Randolph.

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

James McClean in congratulated after one of his second-half goals in Moldova
James McClean's second-half goals secured victory

McClean says media must be 'realistic'

The Republic were criticised after a laboured 1-0 win over Georgia on Thursday - and McClean urged the Irish media to be more "realistic".

"The Irish press need a realisation... we're not going to blow things away, said the Derryman.

"We've always been a team that works hard and when has a win never been enough?"

The West Brom winger, 27, said he was "fortunate enough to be in the right position twice" for his second-half goals in Chisinau.

"I'm delighted - more so for the team than myself," he added.

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