Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Luxembourg were made to look like a great team, blasts Carroll

Roy Carroll has admitted he was shocked by Northern Ireland’s sub-standard second-half performance in Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg.

And the goalkeeper also claimed that the men in green made the visitors look like a ‘great team.’

The minnows stunned Michael O’Neill’s team with a late equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw and Carroll — who was starting a competitive game at Windsor Park for the first time in six years — believes the disappointing result was down to the inevitability that mistakes will be punished at international level.

There were chances to extend the 1-0 lead during the second half, with Kyle Lafferty having a goal ruled out for offside before Chris Brunt looked certain to score only to send his effort against the post.

The neat passing play from the opening 45 minutes, however, went out the window with the ball being sent from front to back more directly — which isn’t the style that O’Neill wants his team to play.

“In the second half we lost everything,” said Carroll.

“We lost control, we gave too many free-kicks away, we were caught offside and then we got hit with a freak goal.

“I just don’t know what happened. We made them look like a great team and we have to learn from that.”

O’Neill will now have to rally his troops for potentially the toughest game of the campaign — away to Portugal next month.

The Portuguese were fancied by many to win Euro 2012 after three excellent performances in the group stages before they were beaten by Spain in the semi-finals.

The trip to Portugal is the second part of a double-header, but Northern Ireland don’t have a match on the previous Friday, meaning O’Neill will have around a week to work with his players in preparation for the game.

“Everybody is down and we have to pick ourselves up for Portugal,” said Carroll.

“There is always work to be done no matter how experienced you are.

“The boys are disappointed. I am very disappointed myself. It was very hard watching that game in the second half — and I was playing in it.”

Carroll could do nothing about Luxembourg’s 86th minute equaliser, as the ball smacked off Ryan McGivern’s chest before flying across goal and into the corner of the net, but the 34-year-old says the ball shouldn’t even have got that far.

“The goal was a freak accident coming off Ryan like it did, but in the build-up we were all over the place,” he said. “We should have been more compact, we lost that both in defence and attack and we ended up getting bombarded.

“We were 1-0 up and had chances, hit the post, their keeper made a few saves and in international football if you make mistakes you are going to get punished.

“The shot was going well wide when the ball left his foot, but there was nothing Ryan or I could do about it.”

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