x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

International round-up: Mixed fortunes for UK teams as Brady impresses on Ireland debut

Manchester United winger Robbie Brady scored one and set up a brace in his debut for Ireland against Oman, while Wales are bottom of their qualifying group after a 6-1 hammering by Serbia.

Robbie Brady celebrates with Ireland teammate Kevin Doyle following his debut goal for Ireland against Oman
Robbie Brady celebrates with Ireland teammate Kevin Doyle following his debut goal for Ireland against Oman

Craig Levein insists there is no reason to be worried about Scotland's 2014 World Cup hopes despite the 1-1 draw with Macedonia at Hampden leaving his side with two points from two games.

Nikolce Noveski opened the scoring for the visitors in the 11th minute before Kenny Miller levelled just before the break but the boos at the end of the game suggested the Tartan Army already believe their chances of reaching Brazil in 2014 are slim, if not gone altogether.

But Levein, with three victories from 10 competitive games ahead of the double-header away to Wales and Belgium next month, remains confident of qualifying.

"There are three teams on four points, we are two points behind and for me there is no need to get worried about the situation just now," he said.

"If you look at the table it doesn't look damaging at all, does it?

"It isn't as bad as people might make out.

"We struggled to get going. The second-half was better than the first but it was a struggle.

"You saw in the last two games that this group is going to be tight indeed.

"We would loved to have all six points or four, but that's football, it happens."

Michael O'Neill, the Northern Ireland manager, blamed an anxious second-half performance for his side's morale-crushing home draw against Luxembourg.

Things had seemed much brighter when Dean Shiels produced a neat lofted finish to put the hosts in front after 14 minutes, but the inability to add a legitimate second was paid for in full when Daniel Da Mota scored a late - and heavily-deflected - equaliser via Ryan McGivern's shoulder.

"I'm extremely disappointed, it's a game we clearly should have won," said O'Neill. "We had numerous chances in the first half to add to the one goal we had and we played poorly in the second half, although we did have chances to add to the score.

"We got caught with a very poor goal at the end. I don't think we deserved that on the night even though the second-half performance was way below the standard we'd expect."

A shell-shocked Chris Coleman was at a loss to explain his side's "unacceptable" performance Wales' humiliating 6-1 defeat to Serbia in Novi Sad.

Wales turned in an inept display littered with horrendous defensive errors as they suffered their third heaviest defeat since 1930.

Aleksandar Kolarov curled home a free kick and Zoran Tosic doubled the home side's lead after some comedy defending had allowed Manchester City's Kolarov to slip past several challenges.

Gareth Bale got Wales back in it with a stunning free kick but Darcy Blake's awful defensive header allowed Filip Djuricic to net Serbia's third before the break.

Dusan Tadic got the fourth before another gaffe from Blake let in Branislav Ivanovic and Miralem Sulejmani completed the rout to leave Wales rooted to the foot of Group A.

"We knew it would be difficult coming here but on the back of Friday's performance against Belgium we thought we could get something, but we can't accept that level of performance," said Coleman.

"To say it is disappointing is an understatement. We have to do much better than that and we are capable of doing much better.

"To lose 6-1 is an absolute hammering and we can't ignore that, the manner of the performance was particularly disappointing.

"At this level you cannot gift teams goals, you have to at least be hard to beat and play with a bit of pride and we didn't do that. We caved in."

Manchester United winger Robbie Brady showed glimpses of his class as he scored one and set up two in the Republic of Ireland's 4-1 friendly win over Oman.

Brady has yet to appear for the Manchester United first team, and Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland manager, said he wants the 20-year-old to get regular football to cement his international credentials.

"He might be called up in to the squad for the next match, but he would not necessarily be in the team (if he isn't playing regularly).

"This is a problem we have in our team, that five or six players only usually play 30 minutes or so every week."

Paul Le Guen admitted his Oman side struggled for fitness in the friendly at Fulham's Craven Cottage ground.

"It was too complicated for us and too many of our players are not fit enough because the season has not started yet in Oman and the players have just finished Ramadan," he said.

"We knew it would be tough."

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