Jeff Hendrick: When it comes to the big games this group of lads show up

Jeff Hendrick praised the spirit shown by the Republic of Ireland as they claimed second spot in Group D with a smash-and-grab raid against Wales in Cardiff.

James McClean scored the only goal of the game in the 57th minute as Martin O'Neill's men became the first side to win on Welsh soil in four years, bagging themselves a World Cup play-off place in the process.

Burnley midfielder Hendrick told Sky Sports: "It was hard work, we knew it would be, but we always said that once we had one game it's a do-or-die and when it comes to the big games this group of lads show up.

"I think everybody that plays us knows they are in for a hard game. We might not pass the ball as much as other countries but we've got the spirit and it's great to do it for the fans.

"We've got two big games, we've just got to keep going and we've got to show that spirit again."

Goalscorer McClean said: "Unbelievable. There's no better feeling.

"A lot of people wrote us off and I think it was a test tonight, even more so because we needed to win, but we showed our character and our quality as well, we dug deep and we'll enjoy this one.

"I remember the ball coming across and it was a great dummy from Harry and as it was coming I was just thinking 'keep it down' and it hit the back of the net. There's no better feeling on a football pitch.

"Look, we're not there yet. it's a big night tonight and we'll enjoy that but it means nothing if we don't go and qualify now."

Victorious manager Martin O'Neill was relieved to hear the final whistle after his side were forced to withstand a late bombardment by the home side.

"For us to come here and win on their territory is a great result," he said.

"The last half-hour seemed like an eternity as we had to withstand pressure, as you would expect, but also we knew at some stage we would have to try and win the game and we did it.

"It was great goal, worthy of winning any game. We're in the play-offs...so whenever the draw is made we'll take our chance.

"When the draw was made I thought outside any side involved in Spain and Italy's group - two world-class sides - I thought we had a very, very difficult group. I thought anybody who finished in front of Serbia would probably win it.

"We were fourth seeds so we've come through and we've been fantastic."


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