World Cup Qualifiers: Wales manager defends Bale in Ireland battle


Sun, Mar 26, 2017 - Page 11

Wales manager Chris Coleman spoke out in defense of his players after Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman sustained a broken leg during their World Cup qualifying match.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off in the 71st minute of Friday’s 0-0 draw in Dublin after his right foot was left dangling sickeningly after an ugly foul by Neil Taylor, who was sent off.

Wales forward Gareth Bale was booked for a late challenge on John O’Shea, ruling him out of June’s trip to Serbia, but his manager felt Ireland’s players had been no angels themselves.

Asked by an Irish journalist if Bale had been lucky to avoid a second booking for a high foot on James McClean, Chris Coleman said: “Do you think one or two of yours were lucky to stay on the pitch? Because it was a little bit of both. Your boys were not coming off there with halos on their head. It was going on all through the game.”

“It was a typical British game of football. There were one or two complaints from our boys, that your boys were a little bit late here and there,” Chris Coleman said. “And some of our boys were as well. I’m not complaining. That’s football.”

Chris Coleman might have been aggrieved that Glenn Whelan escaped sanction after leading with his forearm in a challenge on Joe Allen late in the first half.

He also said Aaron Ramsey was nursing a “bruise down the side of his neck.”

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill said O’Shea had been left with “stud marks on his ankle” after Bale caught him as he slid in to attack Chris Gunter’s cross in the 68th minute.

“From where I was sitting, he had to go for the ball,” Chris Coleman said. “It’s a cross, he’s sprinting into the box, he’s got to try and attack the ball. Is it [the question] because it’s Gareth Bale or was it a genuinely bad challenge?”

“If I see it again, I’ll apologize and say he’s got it wrong. There’s no hint of that in my dressing room. There’s no Bale saying, ‘I got that one wrong.’ He wants to appeal the yellow card,” Chris Coleman said.

Chris Coleman defended Taylor, saying he had been left “devastated” by Seamus Coleman’s injury and was “not that type of player,” but also expressed sympathy for the Everton player.

O’Neill confirmed Seamus Coleman had been taken straight to hospital with a broken leg.

“Obviously it’s a real blow to him,” O’Neill said. “He’s having the season of a lifetime at club level. He’s a big player for us, a great captain and a great character.”

“It’s a big, big loss, to Everton and to us. But he’ll fight back, I hope. It puts thing in perspective I suppose,” O’Neill said.

In better news for O’Neill, the point earned at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium kept Ireland four points clear of Wales and level on points with new group leaders Serbia, who beat Georgia 3-1.

Wales looked to be growing into the game in the second half, Bale drilling wide from distance, but Taylor’s dismissal tipped the momentum Ireland’s way and the hosts threatened to snatch it.

“It’s five games gone, it’s exactly halfway [in the qualifying campaign],” O’Neill said. “If you’d said to me two games at home, three away, we would have 11 points on the board, I would have taken that.”

“But Serbia won tonight. Austria won [against Moldova], they’re not out of it. And you wouldn’t call Wales out of it either,” O’Neill added.

O’Neill also paid tribute to West Bromwich Albion winger McClean, who was named man of the match five days on from the shock death of his close friend Derry City captain Ryan McBride, at the age of 27.