Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni admitted that his side were overrun by Croatia during their 3-1 Group C defeat in Poznan.

Trapattoni told RTÉ Sport: “They dominated the first [half], they had more possession, we were inferior in midfield.

“I think the first little mistake, [we were] too slow to come out of the box and the goal put us in a very bad situation, psychologically.”

The Italian also said that he thought Nikica Jelavic’s goal, which put Croatia 2-1 up, was offside, even though it came about after a Stephen Ward mis-kick.

“We had a little reaction after the goal but the second goal was two metres offside, I said that to the referee,” he said.

Ireland are now at the bottom of the group after Spain and Italy played out a 1-1 draw earlier in Gdansk.

The 73-year-old acknowledged that a win against either side is crucial.

“Now we are only one point behind Italy and Spain...obviously, we [have to] look about winning against Spain or Italy,” he added.

Sean St Ledger scored to give Ireland hope and level the scores at 1-1 in the first half, but claimed afterwards that his first goal in a major tournament was scant consolation.

The centre-half said: "When you score you always want to be involved in the game that you win. To score a goal counts for nothing when you lose.

"I thought we were solid enough. I don't think it was a poor defensive display. I think they scored three sloppy goals.

"The first two were set-pieces so that is a team thing that has to be defended. I can't say Shay had too many shots to save. I think one in the first half and maybe one in the second."

St Ledger also bemoaned the timing of the goals, and felt that all three came at bad times for Ireland.

"The most important thing was the timing of the goals," he insisted. "You always want to get off to a bright start, but they went 1-0 up, which was tough. To get back to 1-1 was good.

"Then I thought the fans were behind us and then they scored. When we came out for the second half we knew the next goal was vitally important.

"When you go 3-1 down to a side like Croatia it is always going to be an uphill task. They put men behind the ball and they are a good side."

World and European champions Spain are next up for Giovanni Trapattoni's side in Gdansk on Thursday night, and while many are already writing off Ireland's chances of progressing from the Group stages, St Ledger still believes.

He said: "It is obviously going to be tough but that's football. You are not going to go through tournaments or even games unbeaten. You will lose some. Croatia are in the top ten for a reason.

"There is no better game to come next than Spain. Obviously we will relish the challenge of the world champions, so why not go and get a result?"