Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill insists that it’s too early to get carried away with thoughts of the 2018 World Cup, despite earning a major victory in the quest for qualifying for Russia.
James McClean’s goal gave Ireland a 1-0 victory over Austria and left O’Neill’s side out on their own at top of Group D.
It’s the first time that Ireland have beaten an Austria side since 1963 and the first time they’ve ever claimed victory against their hosts away from home.
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Ireland had to stick to a their game plan and soaked up plenty of pressure in the first half before wearing down their opponents and catching them on the break early in the second half.
The Ireland boss is aware that Ireland still haven’t reached the halfway point of their qualifying campaign and emphasised just how much work is left to be done.
"It was a tough evening for us, particularly if the first half," O'Neill told RTÉ Sport. “Austria started strongly, which we knew that they would did with the pressure on them to get a home win.
“We stemmed the flow of it at half-time and I thought we were very strong in the second half.
“I felt that we were starting turn the tide that the game was within our grasp and McClean comes up big with a great goal and naturally I’m delighted for him.
“I’m delighted that we’ve won and I’m not saying it’s significant by any stretch of the imagination. There’s a million miles to go but it’s nice to win that game tonight.”
Austria now trail Ireland by five points in Group D, but O’Neill is refusing to rule them out of the race for qualification.
“Naturally Austria will be disappointed because they’ve dropped home points again but I wouldn’t discount anyone just at this minute.”
The only downside for Ireland was that a second-half booking for Robbie Brady means that the influential full-back will now be suspended for the March clash with Wales in the Aviva Stadium.
Brady was penalised for kicking the ball away but O’Neill is confident that Ireland will be able to cope with his absence.
“It’s a second yellow, I don’t think Robbie was even aware beforehand. It was a soft one, considering he knocked the ball back.
“We have played the competition without Robbie at one particular time. We played without Jeff [Hendrick] in Moldova.
“We played without players every single time so hopefully along the way somebody steps up to the mark.”