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The defender said the Boys in Green were unlucky in Poznan and conceded that qualifying from Group C has now got tougher

Stephen Ward has said 'lady luck' deserted Ireland in their 3-1 defeat to Croatia in Poznan.

The Boys in Green were despatched by their Group C rivals shipping three goals in 50 minutes after 11 clean sheets in 14 games. Ward said the Boys in Green had turned in a 'decent performance' on the night but would need to improve for the clashes with Spain and Italy to come.

"I thought it was decent performance and from us and we felt lady luck deserted us a little bit tonight," he told RTE.

Ward added: "If you look at (the first goal) there was a deflection on the cross and everyone was wrong-footed from the header.

"The second I am fouled and I don't know how it has not been seen. There's three referees – two behind the goal. Initially they were offside.

"The third one is obviously a good header but it's has gone in off Shay and could have gone either side of the post. A few decisions just didn't go our way. I'm not making any excuses.

Ireland were a goal down within three minutes when Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring for Croatia. Sean St Ledger squared matters a quarter of an hour later but two goals either side of half-time for Slaven Bilic's side ensured the Boys in Green began their Euro 2012 campaign with a defeat.

"That changes the game (Mandzukic's second goal). The header was a good header. It is just unfortunate the way it went in," said the Wolves defender.

He added: "I thought we were in the game and I didn't think it was that bad of a performance."

The Dubliner praised the thousands of Irish fans in Poznan for their 'unbelievable' support and said the squad wanted to give the travelling support something to cheer about in the remaining games.

"It's not gone the way we wanted it to go but we hope we can do well in our next games and give the fans something to cheer about. We are in a tough group and we know it is going to be hard.

"We are a group of players with a good team spirit and we will definitely pick ourselves up for the next two," concluded Ward.