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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Gray: Irish have nothing to fear
Damien Duff battles for possession
Gray praised Duff for his non-stop performance
Andy Gray

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Ireland are at their best when they play with a good tempo and that is what happened against Saudi Arabia.

They had good movement up front and it was important to get the ball to Robbie Keane and Damien Duff as early in the game as they could.

I thought Duff was magnificent, he was a tormentor all evening and Robbie got a fantastic goal.

That goal, though, took the edge away. No matter who you play at these championships, the other team is going to have a part in the game.

Open Quote
I felt they played like a team who knew they were going through
Close Quote
Andy Gray
Saudi Arabia's part of the game was the 20 minutes before half-time.

They had one or two really good opportunities which a top-class side would probably have taken.

The Irish, although they never rode their luck, were happy to see half-time.

They came out in the second half and again got an early goal and that settled them down.

After Gary Breen's goal I felt they played like a team who knew they were going through.

Ireland have lived up to my expectations because I always believed they would qualify.

Having come out of their tough qualifying group in the first place, it would have been such a disappointment not to get through this one.

Republic of Ireland's  Damien Duff celebrates his goal
Duff was the star for the Republic
I do not think the Germans are great shakes. Cameroon are good but they have not really performed to the level they can.

And Ireland have done what Ireland do best.

They have got discipline, good organisation, great spirit and the odd player who can do something special.

They will now play the winners of Group B - and I'll be amazed if that isn't Spain.

Ireland should go into that game full of confidence.

The Spanish will be far more worried about facing the Irish than Ireland will be about facing Spain.

And why not? Spain do not have a great record in recent World Cups and European Championships.

Let's hope that continues on Sunday.


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"Ireland were magnificent"
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GROUP E
  P GD PTS
GERMANY 3 +10 7
IRELAND 3 +3 5
CAMEROON 3 -1 4
SAUDI ARABIA 3 -12 0

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