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Republic of Ireland boss takes positives from defeat by Mexico

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill took positives from his side's 3-1 defeat by Mexico in the USA.
Damian Spellman, Press Association Sport, East Rutherford

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill was far from dispirited despite seeing his team taught a lesson by Mexico.

Juan Carlos Osorio's men outclassed a below-strength Ireland team at the MetLife Stadium as they stepped up their preparations for World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and the United States before they head for the Confederations Cup in Russia.

However, O'Neill was able to take positives from a 3-1 defeat in which he experimented with a 3-5-2 formation with decidedly mixed results ahead to the Group D showdown with Austria on June 11.

He said: "First of all, I was delighted with the game. Secondly, quite a number of players have not played football for quite a considerable amount of time.

"In terms of our preparation for the main game against Austria, I thought it was excellent. Mexico were very good, they were good on the ball as befits a side like that.

"I thought it was a great work-out, a great exercise for us."

O'Neill had hinted in the build-up to the game that he would use a three-man defence with Richard Keogh and John Egan lining up either side of Shane Duffy, who was playing his first game since March 4 because of injury.

That left Cyrus Christie and captain-for-the-night James McClean operating as wing-backs, although the Mexicans brutally exploited the space they left behind and led 2-0 with just 25 minutes gone courtesy of Jesus Corona's strike and Raul Jimenez's penalty.

Carlos Vela ended any prospect of a fightback with a third goal nine minutes after the restart and although substitute Stephen Gleeson pulled one back 13 minutes from time, the margin of victory did not fully reflect Mexico's dominance.

Asked about the system he adopted, O'Neill said: "We have to try it, that's the whole point.

"That's what I said in the last two or three days: let's have a look at it because we might have to do it at some point in our World Cup campaign, we might have to change systems.

"You can play a number of systems but you have to deal with situations.

"Mexico played much better than us, they deserved to win the game. As far as I'm concerned, it was great. I was delighted to take on, I thought it was great preparation."

It was the Republic's second visit to the MetLife Stadium after they faced Portugal there during the run-up to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

They lost 5-1 on that occasion and after the latest defeat O'Neill joked that they would not be back.

He said: "We were here three years ago and we played against Portugal, who were going to the World Cup, and they beat us well and Mexico have beaten us too, so I don't want to come back again.

"It really is a fantastic stadium and the noise in terms of atmosphere and occasion was very good. But I would have liked us to have played better."

O'Neill and his players flew straight back to Dublin after the game and will return to action on Sunday when they take on Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium in another friendly.


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