PLAY­ERS

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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,” 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 apol­o­gise 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 Ukraine and Turkey in fourth have eight points each.

The home side missed sev­eral chances ei­ther side of Kalinic’s 38th-minute thun­der­bolt while a cagey Ukrainian out­fit rarely trou­bled Croa­tia’s rear­guard in the Mak­simir sta­dium.

Mario Mandzu­kic hit the post for Croa­tia and Kalinic twice came close be­fore he broke the dead­lock in the 38th minute, ap­peal the yel­low card.”

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

O’Neill con­firmed Sea­mus 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.”

In bet­ter news for O’Neill, the point earned at the Aviva Sta­dium kept Ire­land four points clear of Wales and level on points with new group lead­ers Ser­bia, who beat Ge­or­gia 3-1. drilling an un­stop­pable shot into the top corner af­ter good work by Luka Mo­dric and Ivan Rakitic.

Kalinic should have dou­bled Croa­tia’s lead four min­utes later but goal­keeper An­driy Py­a­tov smoth­ered the striker’s weak lob from 12 me­tres when the goal was at his mercy.

At the other end, Croa­tia keeper Dani­jel Suba­sic par­ried a pair

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 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 Ryan McBride, the Derry City cap­tain, at the age of 27.

“He played very, very strongly,” O’Neill said.

“He played with his heart, as he al­ways does. He played with not only great com­mit­ment, but also a great mea­sure of dis­ci­pline.” AFP of long-range ef­forts and de­fender Tin Jed­vaj cleared the ball off the line af­ter a goal­mouth scram­ble.

Py­a­tov came to Ukraine’s res­cue in the dy­ing min­utes when he palmed away a sting­ing Mo­dric shot af­ter the mid­fielder’s dart­ing run into the box.

Croa­tia next visit Ice­land on June 11, while Ukraine are away to Fin­land. Reuters

Croa­tia’s Nikola Kalinic at­tempts to score against Ukraine in their World Cup qual­i­fier on Fri­day.

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