"We deserved it" - Martin O'Neill hails heroic Irish performance

Ireland meet France now in the knockout stages of the competition on Sunday

Martin O'Neill insists Ireland were deserved winners in Lille this evening and says the teams performance was a true reflection of their ability as a unit.

Speaking after tonight's heroic performance, the Ireland boss was full of praise for his players and the fans.

"We deserved the victory. I think it was a penalty kick in the second half and we obviously felt a wee bit disheartened with that. But the players got over it and the whole performance was fantastic.

"I thought Wes [Hoolahan] was going to do it for us, had he not spurned that chance. But we came up big again. Robbie Brady, who is a terrific player, got his head in there very bravely and turned the ball into the net. We deserved to win and we deserve to be where we are.

"I don't think that he was ever going to miss. Once it went in there, he went as bravely as anything and it didn't matter whether he was going to be thumped by the goalkeeper or not." 

O'Neill drew attention to the effort and support of the fans also throughout the game.

"The fans were incredible, they kept the team going. The players were talking about it in the dressing room. They kept us going throughout the evening. And I think  the players kept the fans going so it was a combination of both.

"We played so well against Sweden and we didn't get the rewards in the match and maybe [the Belgium game] came a bit too quickly for us. The players were absolutely terrific and ready. Had we not gone through tonight it would have been very disappointing.

"We have an enormous spirit in the dressing room... To dominate for the game like we did and to play like we did for the 90 minutes was fantastic."