Martin O'Neill: Republic of Ireland manager expects 'tight' qualification campaign

James McClean celebrates scoring
James McClean's goal was his eighth for the Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill expects the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign to be "very tight" after his side beat Austria in Vienna.

West Brom's James McClean scored the only goal of the game as the Republic beat their hosts for the first time.

The victory means they top Group D after four games, two points ahead of Serbia and four clear of Wales.

"I'm really pleased to have 10 points on the board, but there's a million miles to go," said O'Neill.

Group D

The Republic are the first away team to win in Austria since Germany in 2012.

The Austrians qualified for Euro 2016 with an unbeaten record of nine victories from 10 qualifying games.

But they have lost two of their first four matches in World Cup qualifying to sit fourth, six points behind the Republic.

O'Neill said: "We defied the odds to win this game. I don't think the record is important but it's three great points for us. Tonight just encapsulates the spirit of the team.

"We had to withstand a lot of pressure. It took us a long time to get into the game. We've got a good strength of character, which is very important.

"It's a really great start but I know from our experience in the Euro campaign that matches are difficult. I still believe it will be very tight."

'My biggest international goal'

Match-winner McClean, who only played after recovering from a back injury, scored his eighth international goal with a sweetly struck left-footed drive on 48 minutes.

"It was without a doubt my biggest goal for Ireland," he said. "You play on merit and the performances you put in, so I want to keep pulling my weight."

McClean, 27, joked assistant manager Roy Keane would have "killed" him had he squandered the chance, adding: "He hammers us in training that we must hit the target."

Former Republic defender Paul McGrath was glowing in his praise of McClean
Former Republic defender Paul McGrath was glowing in his praise of McClean

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France431072510
2Sweden42116337
3Netherlands31115324
4Bulgaria3102510-53
5Belarus302125-32
6Luxembourg301246-21

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Switzerland33007349
2Portugal3201122106
3Hungary31114314
4Faroe Islands311126-44
5Latvia310214-33
6Andorra300319-80

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany44001601612
2Northern Ireland42118267
3Azerbaijan421124-27
4Czech Rep412124-25
5Norway410357-23
6San Marino4004117-160

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1R. of Ireland431073410
2Serbia42209548
3Wales41308446
4Austria411267-14
5Georgia402235-22
6Moldova4013211-91

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Poland4310105510
2Montenegro42119457
3Denmark42027526
4Romania41216425
5Armenia4103410-63
6Kazakhstan4022311-82

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England431060610
2Slovenia42204228
3Slovakia42027256
4Lithuania412157-25
5Scotland411268-24
6Malta4004110-90

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain43101511410
2Italy4310114710
3Israel43018539
4Albania420246-26
5Macedonia4004411-70
6Liechtenstein4004116-150

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium3300130139
2Greece33008179
3Bos-Herze32017436
4Estonia310247-33
5Cyprus300307-70
6Gibraltar3003114-130

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Croatia4310101910
2Ukraine42207348
3Iceland42116517
4Turkey41215505
5Finland401336-31
6Kosovo4013112-111
View full World Cup Qualifying - European tables

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