Aberdeen have reported racist abuse which was allegedly directed towards Senegalese forward Pape Habib Gueye during their Europa Conference League encounter against PAOK in Greece.

The Dons revealed that it was brought to their attention during the second half that the unused substitute was “the victim of racial abuse from a section of PAOK supporters”.

A statement added: “Aberdeen FC club staff immediately informed the UEFA venue director and following conclusion of the match met with the UEFA match delegate to officially report the matter.

“Pape has the unwavering support of his teammates and all at Aberdeen FC will liaise fully with UEFA during the course of their investigations into this very serious matter.

“As a club we have zero tolerance for any form of discrimination or racist abuse. There is no place for such behaviour in football, or society as a whole.”

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson was “gutted but so proud” after his side’s Europa Conference League qualification hopes ended with a 2-2 draw against PAOK in Greece.

Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes hit an early opener for the Dons who later quickly fought back from 2-1 down when Jamie McGrath scored a 30-yard free-kick in the 70th minute.

The Dons went for the win by putting on top goalscorer Bojan Miovski to join Duk up front but the home side finished the stronger team and both they and Eintracht Frankfurt sealed their place in the knockout stages.

The Dons have two points after suffering a narrow defeat in Germany and losing a two-goal lead to PAOK last time out as well as drawing with HJK Helsinki in an eventful encounter.

Robson told RedTV after the game in Thessaloniki: “A difficult one to take. You can see how good a side they are – they beat Olympiacos 4-2 at the weekend, they beat Eintracht Frankfurt here.

“We went toe to toe with them and gave them a real go and we have drawn 2-2. The home game we were 2-0 up after 78 minutes. I think Eintracht Frankfurt away was one of our best performances you will see in Europe for a long, long time.

“I sit here so frustrated and disappointed because we deserve to have more points on the board.

“We have been outstanding against some brilliant teams. If you go back to the Hacken games, Helsinki when we missed the chances, Eintracht Frankfurt away, two PAOK games, we have been outstanding. Little, wee details cost us.

“I am so gutted but I am so proud of my players. We have come into Europe and had a real go and that’s what I wanted.”

Robson believes his side will be better for the experience.

“It’s all about learning,” the former Celtic midfielder said. “I did it myself as a player, in every European game you get better, better and better.

“This is new to a lot of them, and these are big group games against
proper, proper teams.

“We passed the ball really well for bits in the first half and you know, with the quality they have, we are going to have to defend. We did that.

“I thought we might have carried a bit more of a threat but in the end we had a go, as hard as it was because of how heavy-legged the players were.

“I am so proud, and so proud of those fans. They were absolutely bouncing and they could see we tried to give them a win.”

David Moyes has urged West Ham and Olympiacos supporters to behave themselves when the teams meet in Greece in the Europa League.

Tensions are high in Athens after Olympiacos’ league match with rivals Panathinaikos on Sunday had to be abandoned after an opposition player was hit by a firecracker.

Olympiacos have subsequently issued a warning to their supporters against throwing missiles and using laser pointers, which has become big problem in Greek football.

Meanwhile, West Ham fans were banned from their last European outing in Freiburg due to missile throwing during the Europa Conference League final victory over Fiorentina in June.

Hammers boss Moyes said at his pre-match press conference: “They’ve got great support here, fantastic enthusiasm, and it’s fantastic to come to a football city where the football really matters.

“You want the passion and the atmosphere but we also want good behaviour from our supporters and Olympiacos supporters.

“It’s a big game, but it’s important that everyone works together and end up having a good night.

“I think all we want is a good football game. You have to support your team well. You’re not doing your club any favours if you’re getting stadium bans or your team is getting thrown out of Europe.

“You have to be well behaved and we want the supporters to be that.”

Thursday’s match gives West Ham the chance to bounce back from Sunday’s painful 4-1 defeat at Aston Villa.

Greek defender Dinos Mavropanos said: “For the game against Aston Villa, it was a bad day against a good team.

“But our schedule is really busy so we needed to learn from it and start to focus on this game. We’ve been doing that. We’re here, we’ve worked hard and we’re looking forward to the match.”

Vladimir Coufal has not travelled due to a knock but fellow full-backs Ben Johnson and Aaron Cresswell are back in the squad after spells out.

Chiedozie Ogbene has admitted he feels sorry for under-fire Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny after his lingering hopes of Euro 2024 qualification were finally dashed.

Kenny’s reign seemingly reached the point of no return on Friday night when a 2-0 home defeat by Greece left his team with just three points from a possible 18 in Group B and mathematically unable to clinch a place in the top two.

Ireland head for Gibraltar on Monday evening with only pride at stake and while Kenny received assurances last week that he would remain in charge until after next month’s fixtures, discontent with the direction of travel under his charge has reached fever pitch.

Asked about the manager’s future, Luton striker Ogbene reflected on early chances which went begging and said: “Had we scored those chances, then the game would be different.

“We would have been 2-0 up. But we didn’t take those chances and a positive start ends up negatively.

“I actually feel sorry for the manager. We were not sharp in our decision-making and overall it is disappointing, the result.”

Kenny took over from Mick McCarthy in April 2020 and vowed to shake up the squad he inherited.

He has since blooded a new generation of young players and tried to implement a more progressive brand of football.

Unfortunately for him, potential has not yielded results and his team have won just five of the 27 competitive games they have played.

Four of those victories have come against lower-ranked sides – Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Armenia and Gibraltar – with a Nations League success against Scotland the exception.

Qualification from a group which also includes World Cup runners-up France and the Netherlands was always a big ask, but five defeats in six games tell their own story.

Even a handsome victory over Gibraltar in Faro would do little to quell the negativity surrounding Kenny’s reign, but Celtic defender Liam Scales, who made his senior international debut against Greece, insists there will be no shortage of motivation.


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Scales said: “Look, it’s never hard to lift yourself to play for your country. Obviously I’ve only done it once, but the lads will tell you that it’s the best thing you can do as a footballer.

“As players, we’ll be motivated to go there and put on a performance. As disappointed as we are, it’s playing for the jersey now.

“Obviously qualification is done and that’s that. But we’re playing for the jersey and pride now. We’re all proud to be wearing the jersey and we’ll go to Gibraltar, hopefully get a result and do better.”

Stephen Kenny’s reign as Republic of Ireland manager reached the point of no return after a comprehensive 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Greece finally killed off any hope of Euro 2024 qualification.

First-half goals from Giorgos Giakoumakis and Giorgos Masouras at a sparsely-populated Aviva Stadium plunged Ireland’s shambolic Group B campaign further into the mire and left Kenny, whose tenure is due to be reviewed next month, with nowhere to turn.

His team has managed to take just three points from its first six games of the campaign – and those from Gibraltar, who they face again in Faro on Monday evening – and for all his claims to have revitalised his squad with young, hungry players, he has not been rewarded with what he needs most – results.

Gus Poyet’s Greece, who already have a play-off place secured via the Nations League, went into the game ranked four places higher than Ireland, but were streets ahead in terms of both potency and solidity, and they will entertain the Netherlands and France in their remaining fixtures with 12 points banked and hope of upsetting the odds.

For Kenny, there is only the prospect of a bloody post mortem amid a mounting chorus of disapproval after a night which ended with a smattering of boos, but more apathy.

The return of 18-year-old Brighton striker Evan Ferguson after he missed September’s double-header against France and the Netherlands through injury had provided cause for optimism, but that dwindled after a bright start in which Will Smallbone forced a fourth-minute save from keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos and Ferguson grazed the foot of his right post with a curling shot.

Central defenders Shane Duffy and Nathan Collins repeatedly found themselves in possession, but with little useful movement ahead of them, and it was home keeper Gavin Bazunu who was called upon to keep out Tasos Bakasetas’ dipping, swerving shot from distance, which he did, but in unconvincing fashion.

The visitors were growing into the game and they silenced the home crowd with 20 minutes gone when Liverpool full-back Kostas Tsimikas was allowed to make ground before crossing for the criminally unmarked Giakoumakis to head powerfully past the helpless Bazunu.

Ogbene saw a snapshot blocked at source and Smallbone curled an effort over from range as the Republic responded, but with Greece working hard to deny them time and space, prompting Ferguson to drop deeper in search of the ball, they struggled to create meaningful opportunities.

Bazunu fielded another Bakasetas shot with some comfort as the Greeks prospered on the break and had to make a fine 37th-minute stop to keep out Dimitris Pelkas’ from Giakoumakis’ clever reverse pass after Petros Mantalos and Masouras had made the most of Ferguson’s failure to retain the ball on halfway.

Kenny’s men were laboured in their efforts to claw themselves back into the game with Josh Cullen firing harmlessly over after Ogbene had floated a cross beyond Ferguson and Duffy heading tamely at Vlachodimos from a Smallbone free-kick, and their plight worsened deep into stoppage time.

Giakoumakis did well to control Petros Mantalos’ steepling clearance on his chest and when Dimitris Pelkas returned his cross into the middle, Masouras pounced to make it 2-0.

Matt Doherty’s unwitting intervention prevented Pelkas’ 53rd-minute shot from creeping inside Bazunu’s left post after Bakasetas had opened Ireland up once again, but the hosts belatedly built up a head of steam.

Jason Knight sent a skidding attempt wide from distance and then saw appeals for a penalty waved away after he had gone down under Masouras’ challenge, and Kenny sent on striker Callum Robinson and winger Mikey Johnston with 20 minutes remaining in a desperate search for inspiration.

Vlachodimos repelled a 83rd-minute Doherty header with his feet and Robinson dragged a shot wide seconds later, but redemption proved beyond Kenny’s side.

The Republic of Ireland will attempt to launch a strong finish to a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign when they welcome Greece to the Aviva Stadium on Friday evening.

Stephen Kenny’s men saw hopes of automatic qualification effectively go up in smoke last month when they were beaten by Group B rivals France in Paris and the Netherlands in Dublin, leaving them with just three points from their five games to date.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding a game in which there is little more than pride at stake for the hosts.

Curtains for Kenny?

Despite inheriting an Ireland squad which had secured a Euro 2020 play-off place on which they were ultimately unable to cash in, Kenny stated from early in his reign that qualification for Euro 2024 was his target. Barring an unlikely series of results, the Republic will not make it to Germany automatically and even another ticket for the play-offs looks unlikely as a result of their poor Nations League record. A review of the manager’s tenure will take place next month, but even some of Kenny’s most staunch supporters are starting to turn.

Greek tragedy


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The Group B draw left both Ireland and Greece, who were already assured of a play-off spot, facing a difficult task to deny France and the Netherlands the top two berths and as such, the games between the two were going to be crucial. Kenny’s men travelled to Athens in June knowing victory would put them in a strong position from which to mount an attack; they left on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline and with the alarm bells already ringing after just two games.

Matt finish?

Matt Doherty in particular did not enjoy his trip to the Greek capital. With his side trailing to Anastasios Bakasetas’ and a second from Girogos Masouras after Nathan Collins had levelled, the defender was sent off after a needless clash with Liverpool’s Kostas Tsimikas. He and his team-mates were less than happy with the behaviour of some of the Greece players during the game and there is a hunger for a measure of revenge within the camp.

When Irish eyes are spying

Greece boss Gus Poyet was a satisfied man after the win at the OPAP Arena, claiming afterwards that he had anticipated what Ireland would do and had therefore been able to combat it. Ireland assistant manager Keith Andrews this week suggested the Uruguayan had enlisted the help of Irish contacts to draw up his masterplan. Time will tell if he has been able to do so once again.

Evan help us

Last month’s 2-0 defeat in Paris and the 2-1 reverse at the hands of the Dutch which followed it might have been different had Kenny been able to call upon one of his emerging stars. Eighteen-year-old Brighton striker Evan Ferguson was forced to withdraw from the squad due to a knee injury, robbing Ireland of their most potent weapon. Ferguson is back and primed and Ireland expects.

Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has urged his young hopefuls to learn from veteran James McClean after he announced his impending retirement from international football.

The 34-year-old Wrexham midfielder revealed his intention to end his time with Ireland after 102 caps, 11 goals and two European Championship campaigns following next month’s friendly against New Zealand on Thursday morning.

Hours later, international boss Kenny, who first managed the player as a youngster at Derry City, paid tribute to both his quality and intensity after naming a 24-man squad which did not include him for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Greece and Gibraltar.


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Kenny said: “He’s had a terrific career, James. Young Irish players can learn a lot from him, how he approached his career. Ireland was always at the forefront of his thoughts, it was always the pinnacle for him and it was always the most important thing, to play for his country. You had to respect that.

“From my point of view as a manager – obviously I managed him as a teenager, gave him his debut and then sold him to Sunderland. But people change in that period and obviously he’s a different personality then when I managed the Irish team (Derry) because he’s in his 30s by the time I take up the Ireland team, so he’s a different personality.

“But if there are any grey areas about who might play in the team sometimes and decisions are not made and depending on who’s available, he’s so forceful in his training performances, sometimes he gets himself in the team by just his sheer intensity in his training in the sessions.

“It’s hard to ignore him then, when someone trains like that, in the games.”

Derry-born former Sunderland, Wigan, West Brom and Stoke man McClean, who has repeatedly found himself at the centre of controversy over his decision not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his club shirt, had earlier spoken of his pride at representing his country over 11 years.


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He said in a statement issued on social media: “It has the meant the absolute world and more to be able to pull on the green jersey with honour, step out onto a football pitch – especially at the Aviva Stadium – to represent our great country, standing singing Amhran na bhFiann ready to go out into battle with your fellow countrymen.

“Nothing has ever come close. I gave absolutely everything I had of myself to ensure that I did the jersey, the fans and the country proud, and know that I never took it for granted each time. I hope that showed.

“It will be heartbreaking not to be involved beyond this year, but I feel now is the right time to step aside without any regrets.

“I lived my own and every young Irish footballer’s dream – and represented this country with pride.”

McClean’s absence from the squad was not the only one of note, with Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher also missing after suffering a gash to his knee in training which required 12 stitches, while Sheffield United defender John Egan and Cardiff winger Callum O’Dowda are also unavailable because of injury.

However, Celtic winger Mikey Johnston and Cardiff forward Callum Robinson were included for the games against Greece in Dublin on Friday, October 13 and Gibraltar in Faro three days later.

Ireland’s hopes of qualification are all but over after Group B defeats by France and the Netherlands last month left them with just three points from a possible 15.

Squad: Gavin Bazunu (Southampton), Mark Travers (Stoke, on loan from Bournemouth), Max O’Leary (Bristol City), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Festy Ebosele (Udinese), Nathan Collins (Brentford), Shane Duffy (Norwich), Dara O’Shea (Burnley), Andrew Omobamidele (Nottingham Forest), Liam Scales (Celtic), Ryan Manning (Southampton), Josh Cullen (Burnley), Jayson Molumby (West Brom), Alan Browne (Preston), Will Smallbone (Southampton), Jason Knight (Bristol City), Jamie McGrath (Aberdeen), Mark Sykes (Bristol City), Evan Ferguson (Brighton), Adam Idah (Norwich), Aaron Connolly (Hull), Chiedozie Ogbene (Luton), Callum Robinson (Cardiff), Mikey Johnston (Celtic).

Hearts’ hopes of reaching the Europa Conference League group stage sustained a major dent on Thursday night as they suffered a frustrating 2-1 defeat at home to Greek side PAOK in the first leg of their play-off round tie.

The Jambos made the ideal start when they went ahead through Lawrence Shankland’s early penalty, but the visitors equalised with a spot-kick of their own shortly afterwards.

Hearts enjoyed the bulk of the pressure thereafter and Shankland saw a goal ruled out for offside just before Andrija Zivkovic’s superb 75th-minute strike against the run of the play handed the Greeks the initiative.

The cinch Premiership side now face the formidable task of needing a victory at the hostile Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki next Thursday if they are to prolong their European run into the group stage.

Hearts made four changes to the team that started Sunday’s 4-0 Viaplay Cup victory over Partick Thistle as Odel Offiah, Toby Sibbick, Calem Nieuwenhof and Alex Lowry were replaced by Nathaniel Atkinson, Stephen Kingsley, Cammy Devlin and Liam Boyce.

Backed by another packed Tynecastle crowd, the hosts started on the front foot and there were loud shouts for a penalty in the sixth minute when Kenneth Vargas fell under a challenge from Rafa Soares as he burst into the PAOK box.

Latvian referee Andris Treimanis initially was not convinced but after VAR intervened and following a lengthy check of the pitchside monitor, he pointed to the spot. Three minutes after the foul was committed, Shankland, having kept his composure amid the tension, slotted his kick into the net.

The hosts’ celebrations were short-lived, however. Just two minutes after going ahead, they let the Greeks back into it when Kye Rowles chopped down Serbia forward Zivkovic in the box.

It was a clear penalty and captain Stefan Schwab duly tucked his kick beyond Zander Clark, much to the delight of the partisan 300-strong band of travelling fans.

Hearts almost regained the lead in the 31st minute when Devlin’s cross into the box was glanced towards goal by the head of Shankland but goalkeeper Dominik Kotarski did superbly to claw it out. Vargas and Shankland both had attempts to force the rebound in before Boyce, who looked certain to score from six yards out on the follow-up, saw his shot blocked by Soares.

The Jambos threatened again two minutes into the second half when Kingsley flashed an angled half-volley just beyond the far post after PAOK failed to deal with Alex Cochrane’s free-kick into the box.

The Edinburgh side – who lost Barrie McKay to injury just after the hour – thought they had gone ahead in the 66th minute when Shankland curled a superb finish into the top corner after being played in by Boyce just inside the box but after a VAR check, and following lengthy celebrations from the hosts, the scorer was ruled to be offside.

It proved a pivotal moment as PAOK got themselves ahead in the 75th minute when Zivkovic fired home a ferocious low strike from just outside the box after a corner kick was worked into his path, sparking wild celebrations among the visiting players and supporters.

Pep Guardiola is targeting the Club World Cup to complete the set after Manchester City overcame a sloppy start to beat Sevilla on spot-kicks to lift the UEFA Super Cup.

Two months on from becoming the second English club in history to win the treble, the Champions League holders faced the record Europa League winners in Greece.

Sevilla took the lead through Youssef En-Nesyri’s towering header and had numerous chances to extend their lead before City struck back through Cole Palmer’s looping header.

The Super Cup ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and Guardiola’s men triumphed on penalties 5-4 after Nemanja Gudelj smashed the last spot-kick of the shoot-out off the bar.

This was the first time City have won the competition and the Spaniard is determined to add the Club World Cup to their cabinet in December.

“Of course we are not in the best, best moment, I would say,” Guardiola said after winning his fourth Super Cup as a coach.

“But knowing a little bit the players and the mentality of the backroom staff, I had a feeling that we will try.

“We are really pleased to have already one title in this season. Really pleased for the club – this title we didn’t have and now we have it.

“We miss just one to finish all circle and be able for this club to win all the titles we can have. It’s happening in December, when we go to Saudi Arabia to play there, the (Club) World Cup.

“I would say really, really pleased. A tight game like happened in the (Champions League) final against Inter, a tight game that we lost in the last minute against Arsenal (in the Community Shield). Football in these stages, in that moment, in that period is a coin (flip).”

This was an energy-sapping night for City in hot and humid Piraeus, where the match kicked off at 10pm local time and finished in the early hours of Thursday morning.

It is a quick turnaround after a tough test, leading Guardiola to take a pop at the Premier League for scheduling their next match against Newcastle on Saturday evening.

“Of course tomorrow will be even more happier than today,” he said, with City due to fly back to the north west on Thursday.

“Recover, not one drop of alcohol today. Recover as much as possible because again, from Greece, thank you so much for the Premier League to let us play on Saturday. And not on Sunday and Monday. Thank you so much.”

The star man for City was player of the match Palmer, who followed his fine finish in the eventual Community Shield shoot-out loss to Arsenal by scoring a clever header in Greece.

The 21-year-old has been subject of speculation this summer and Guardiola ruled out a loan move for the home-grown talent.

“The opinion I had when he arrived is he wanted to leave, but now I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

“I don’t think a loan is going to happen. He’s going to stay or going to sell, but I think a loan is not going to happen.

“He has a character. It’s not easy to play against defenders like (Marcos) Acuna, for example, who is a top defender.

“It’s not easy, it’s a final. He’s a young player playing in these stages. It’s not easy for these guys. He played really, really good and made a fantastic goal, too.”

As for Sevilla, the shoot-out heartbreak represented a sixth successive Super Cup loss.

Head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said: “To make a good plan against a team as good as City is very complicated. I really wish we’d played higher up the pitch and put them under more pressure.

“When we had the chances to score the second goal, we didn’t take them. But I really believe we played a good game, and we probably created more chances than them.”

Pep Guardiola is determined to cap Manchester City’s “extraordinary” Champions League triumph by winning a first ever UEFA Super Cup.

Last season’s treble-clinching victory against Inter Milan secured Wednesday’s clash against Europa League victors Sevilla at Olympiacos’ Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece.

Guardiola can become the first manager to win the competition with three different clubs but this is a first taste of Super Cup action for City.

“To be here in this press conference ahead of tomorrow you have to do two extraordinary things: win the Champions League or Europa League,” he said in Piraeus.

“I have to say this is not easy. Maybe for Sevilla it’s easier because they have won a lot of Europa Leagues. I remember once when they beat Barcelona 3-0 in the Super Cup.

“They have a special character. The resilience in the bad moments, to play the finals. It’s not always necessary to play top level always but they have something in their DNA that makes this team and this club different.

“They are mentally so strong but you cannot imagine how incredibly happy we are to be here, to play this game because you have to win the Champions League.

“This is an opportunity we want to take because who knows when we will be back here to play this tournament.”

Sevilla won on their Super Cup debut in 2006 but the perennial Europa League winners are now looking to avoid a sixth straight defeat on this stage.

There are a number of familiar faces in Jose Luis Mendilibar’s squad, including former City players Fernando and Jesus Navas.

“Knowing what I know now, maybe I would have extended the contract when we were together after the first season,” Guardiola said of Sevilla captain Navas.

“We took a decision because we were an old team in that period. We needed to refresh mentally the team. That’s why we make in that year a lot of changes.

“But it’s incredible for him to be at 37, 38 playing and I know how committed he is to his club, captain of Sevilla. I am really pleased to see him tomorrow and say hi to him.”

City are looking to lift their first silverware of the season having lost the Community Shield on penalties to Arsenal.

Stefan Ortega started that match and the back-up goalkeeper is expected to get the nod in Piraeus amid interest from German giants Bayern Munich.

“It would be a problem to lose him first of all because of the quality,” Guardiola said of Ortega, who joined from Arminia Bielefeld last summer.

“We bring him here because (head of goalkeeping) Xabi Mancisidor sent me the clips and said ‘this is a keeper that maybe we need’.

“I didn’t know him. He was playing for a side relegated from the Bundesliga and I saw him and said ‘ah, looks good’. But since day one I said ‘what a keeper we have’.

“You know how many important games he played and how he saved us. We don’t want to sell him, we don’t want to loan him. We need him.

“But like many cases it depends on three parts because after that if we lose Stefan two weeks out (from the end of) the market, we have to go pick up a keeper and it’s not easy now.

“You have to pay transfer (fee) and it’s not easy. We want him. I am sorry but we want him.”

Josh Cullen has admitted the Republic of Ireland have no-one to blame but themselves after defeat in Greece ripped apart their Euro 2024 qualification hopes.

Stephen Kenny’s men headed for Athens in bullish mood after a creditable performance as they went down 1-0 to World Cup runners-up France in their opening Group B fixture in March.

With the Netherlands also waiting in the wings, they knew victory over Gus Poyet’s men – or certainly something more than the 2-1 defeat they ultimately suffered at the OPAP Arena – would be required if they were to prosper, but in the event, they were outplayed for long periods and emerged with what they deserved.

Burnley midfielder Cullen said: “We are very disappointed. We’ve got to be better than that, it’s as simple as that.

“We have to take account as players. We need to look at ourselves, there is no excuses we can make.”

Ireland survived an early blitz, largely thanks to keeper Gavin Bazunu, but succumbed after a VAR intervention prompted Austrian referee Harald Lechner to award a penalty after Callum O’Dowda had blocked George Baldock’s cross with his arm.

They dragged themselves back into it before the break courtesy of defender Nathan Collins’ finish after Evan Ferguson had flicked on Will Smallbone’s corner, but were undone again four minutes after the restart when the excellent Tasos Bakasetas played in Giorgos Masouras to beat Bazunu.

Cullen said: “When you come away in big matches like this, the last thing you want to do is make mistakes that end in goals. We have been doing that too much recently.

“It’s a disappointing night and we need to reflect and go again on Monday.”

It was the manner of the defeat as much as the fact of it that was concerning as Ireland, who face Gibraltar in Dublin on Monday evening, found themselves on the back foot for much of a contest dominated by a slick Greek outfit which sit three places below them in FIFA’s ranking table.

They were never able to get to grips with Trabzonspor schemer Bakasetas or Masouras in midfield and starved of meaningful possession, struggled to create much of note until a late flurry as the hosts sat back on their lead.

Kenny and his players must now put their disappointment behind them and prepare for a game in which even a comprehensive victory over a side beaten 3-0 at home by France on Friday evening would do little to improve their parlous position in the group.

However, asked how he saw the situation, Cullen said: “Monday. We aren’t looking any further than that. We have to prepare for that and make sure we get a result.”

Kenny will be forced to make at least one change with wing-back Matt Doherty suspended after his stoppage-time red card in Athens for a push on Kostas Tsimikas amid a melee as tempers frayed.

Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny is refusing to give up on Euro 2024 qualification despite seeing his side slip to a damaging defeat in Greece.

Kenny admitted Ireland have given themselves “a mountain to climb” if they are to get out of Group B after losing both of their opening fixtures following Friday night’s 2-1 reverse in Athens, but he remains defiant ahead of Gibraltar’s visit to the Aviva Stadium on Monday evening.

Asked if the task is now near-impossible, he said: “It’s only the second game. We’ve given ourselves a mountain to climb.

“At the moment we’ve just got to get ourselves ready for Monday, a home game, nearly a full stadium, we have to give them a victory and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”

Ireland fell behind to Tasos Bakasetas’ 15th-minute penalty, awarded for handball by Callum O’Dowda after a VAR review, but levelled before the break when Nathan Collins fired home from Evan Ferguson’s flick-on, again following a check.

But they were caught again within four minutes of the restart when Giorgos Masouras struck, and the visitors’ misery was complete in stoppage time when Matt Doherty was sent off for pushing Liverpool defender Kostas Tsimikas during an ugly scuffle.

Kenny said: “We didn’t play as well as we would have wanted. Greece were the much better side in the first half overall. They had more control than we would have wanted, they played well.

“That can happen away from home for international teams, but you’ve got to defend better than we did, see it out and that’s what hurt us in the end.

“It was just a really poor second goal to give away. I can’t believe we gave it away to be honest. That’s hurt us. We were still in the game and could have drawn the game – but it might have flattered us.

“I’m very disappointed with the sending off, it seemed very harsh, Matt got involved to get people out, but he didn’t touch his face, he touched his chest. There was too much made of it with the player going down, but there was no facial contact.”

While Ireland will have to lick their wounds and prepare for Gibraltar, Gus Poyet and his players head for France and a game the Uruguayan sees as a free-hit.

He said: “I think we both knew – we were depending a lot on France and the Netherlands – but between the two, maybe one of the two, [Ireland] and us, one maybe will have a chance to go out fighting.

“To be able to be there, we needed to beat each other. If not, then you have no chance because then you depend on them as well.

“Obviously you need to also do well against the Netherlands, but especially this game, you must win it. If you think you’re going to win the other ones, then you are not realistic, so that was, for me, a must-win game for both teams.

“Obviously we were lucky enough to win it and that gives us a platform now, depending on what happens on Monday. In September, we are going to be second because we are there.

“It gives us then the feeling to go to France in a different way because now we have got six points. It’s a different game with six points than one and if you don’t get something, you’re out, so it was very, very important.”

Luis Enrique insisted Spain will be going for the win against Sweden on Sunday even though a draw would be sufficient for his team to win Group B and qualify for next year's World Cup in Qatar.

Spain moved top of the group after beating Greece 1-0 in Athens, taking advantage of Sweden surprisingly losing 2-0 in Georgia earlier on Thursday.

A first-half penalty from Pablo Sarabia was enough to secure victory for La Roja and means Spain now have their fate in their own hands, but Luis Enrique said they will still go for the three points when they host Sweden in Seville in their final group game.

"On Sunday we will go out to win as we do every game against a very difficult opponent, but one that we know very well," Spain head coach Luis Enrique told reporters.

"I hope that the fans will be the 12th player for us."

Luis Enrique was happy with how his team played in Greece and said that he saw improvements from the home side from their first meeting in the group, despite the fact that the reverse game in March finished 1-1.

"Greece has improved a lot since the first game we played in Spain," he added. "Thanks to the attitude and effort of my players, we have taken the game forward against a very hard-working team.

"I think we could have played better. We had a first part of control in which we neutralised their attack.

"I was happy with the attitude of the team. They have not been gripped, which in these games is not easy.

"The players have done a great job, they have overcome difficulties and are ambitious.

"We have a positive dynamic. There are always things to improve, but that we receive support is due to the effort of the team."

Luis Enrique allayed fears about Gavi after the teenage midfielder came off in the second half with what appeared to be a facial injury, saying that he is "fine". The Barcelona starlet was impressive once again, completing 100 per cent of his 43 passes, including 32 in the opposition half.

Spain's game against Sweden will be played at Estadio La Cartuja in Seville, and Luis Enrique emphasised again he wants the fans to roar his team over the line on Sunday.

"In my time as a player we qualified for a World Cup against Denmark in Seville. I don't remember a similar game in my career in which the fans carried us like that day," he said, recalling the qualifier for the 1994 World Cup against Denmark, which Spain won 1-0.

"La Cartuja has to bounce."

Spain have World Cup qualification in their own hands going into the final round of games after winning 1-0 in Greece.

Luis Enrique's side took advantage of a surprise slip from previous Group B leaders Sweden, who lost 2-0 in Georgia earlier on Thursday, to leapfrog them into first place.

Spain had never lost away to Greece in four previous meetings, and a first-half penalty from Pablo Sarabia increased that record to four wins and one draw.

They will book their place at Qatar 2022 if they can avoid defeat to Sweden on Sunday in Seville.

The visitors unsurprisingly dominated possession but created little early on against a well-organised Greece.

The home side thought they had taken the lead on 21 minutes as Giorgos Masouras finished well from a Thanasis Androutsos throughball, but the Olympiakos forward was offside.

Just three minutes later, Spain were awarded a penalty after Inigo Martinez was felled in the box by Dimitris Giannoulis following a corner, and Sarabia sent Odisseas Vlachodimos the wrong way to put La Roja ahead.

The hosts needed a win to keep alive any hopes of qualification themselves and started to gamble a little more towards the end of the game, but Spain remained relatively calm as they eased to a vital win in Athens.

Spain boss Luis Enrique insisted no amount of pressure could affect him ahead of his side's key World Cup qualifier against Greece.

The 2010 world champions are in action in Athens on Friday, with an automatic place at Qatar 2022 potentially on the line.

Should Sweden defeat Georgia in the earlier Group B match, Spain will be unable to catch them in top spot if they do not take all three points against Greece.

John van't Schip's side could still clinch a top-two finish if they beat La Roja, whom they held to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture in March.

Yet Luis Enrique does not believe the fear of missing out on a guaranteed place at next year's finals will disrupt their preparation. 

"Luis Enrique was born with pressure," he told reporters on Wednesday. "I've been dealing with pressure since I was 18 years old and I feel comfortable.

"After seeing how the team is training, I can only convey the confidence they give me.

"We've had pressure for every game. I haven't looked for an example in any other game.

"Greece are a really well organised team, that's the truth. In the reverse game we created few chances, fewer than we wanted. They play well and that's why we have to be good in pressing.

"I'll sign now for a game in which we keep the opposition trapped in their box."

For Spain, the game has been compared to their Euro 2020 group match against Slovakia, when a 5-0 win sent them through to the knockouts behind Sweden after they drew their opening two games.

If they win, they will head into their final game against Sweden knowing that finishing top of their group is still in their own hands.

"It's only one game," said Luis Enrique. "We're not going to make the mistake of thinking it's Sweden. We'll think about Greece – nothing else exists.

"Spain are obliged to try to win every game. The obligation is to win every game and to do it with our weapons. There's always pressure to win.

"I'm really lucky, because after seeing the two training sessions at Las Rozas, I'm more than optimistic. The belief, the rhythm, the quality they have... I feel more than confident and calm when preparing and evaluating this game.

"I'm very fortunate to be the coach of a country that has at least 60 players of international standard, at least for me."

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