Belfast Telegraph

Martin O'Neill confident that Republic of Ireland will land place in Euro 2016 finals

By Damian Spellman

Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long feels his late strike against Poland could prove vital if his side are to qualify for the European Championship finals.

Substitute Long poked home from a Wes Hoolahan knockdown at a corner in injury time to rescue a point for Martin O'Neill's side after Slawomir Peszko had given Poland the lead.

The draw leaves the Republic three points behind Poland, who top the group, while both Germany and Scotland are within touching distance.

It was the third time in qualifying that the Republic had netted a late goal, after a last-gasp winner in Georgia was followed up two games later with a late leveller in Germany.

And for O'Neill, it is no coincidence.

"In the first half we felt that we didn't perform to our ability," the Ulsterman said.

"Belief was so important and you know the players will give everything to the cause.

"I don't think it (scoring late) is an accident. We deserved it. We hit the post twice as well. The second-half performance was one-way traffic. (The goal was) very, very important.

"We have a big, big match against Scotland and we are probably going to have to win."

Scorer Long said: "I think in the first 45 minutes Poland were brilliant and it took us a while to get into them. The gaffer changed the shape and from then on we were in the game.

"We would have been disappointed not to get a draw, we could have got the win.

"It could be a massive point at the end of the campaign.

"Losing three points is massive so to keep them within touching distance is big.

"We need to be winning our home games, we need make it a fortress, but the main thing is not to lose. We will take the draw."

Belfast Telegraph