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We deserved more - O'Neill

Shamrock Rovers coach Michael O'Neill was frustrated to come away from Greece empty-handed following this side's 2-1 Europa League defeat by PAOK Salonika in Thessaloniki.

Costin Lazar's breathtaking 30-yard effort put PAOK in control in the 12th minute and, although Karl Sheppard equalised just after the break, Vieirinha put the hosts back in front with a spectacular 20-yard strike to condemn Rovers to their third straight defeat in the competition and earn PAOK their first win.

"I am satisfied by my players' performance but I am very disappointed as we didn't get anything from that game," O'Neill said.

"We lost from two strikes from distance. The players deserved something more. The character and spirit of the players is not under question. We have played 55 matches in this season. Our opponents have played 12 and this is an important difference.

"Our courage and spirit was first class. We are in the group stage - something that no other Irish team has done. Our European and league campaign is still on."

O'Neill acknowledged the result could prove vital for PAOK in their bid to reach the last 32.

"The last game [for PAOK] against Rubin Kazan will be a very important game, if they will not drop points in Dublin. Vierinha is very good as well as the midfielder Diego Arias. They have a very good chance to qualify from the group as they have the crucial match against Kazan at home."

O'Neill is now turning his attention back to domestic matters, with Rovers top of the League of Ireland Premier Division and set to face UCD in their final game on Monday.

"We have the opportunity to win the league - that was the objective since the start of the season," he said. "The players were focused on tonight's match but it was a disappointing result.

"We look forward to Monday and it will be a great experience for the players. "They always react to disappointment and they will be really focused on Monday to win the league again."


From Belfast Telegraph