Pilkington left with mixed emotions as Ireland debut ends in defeat

The Norwich winger played 20 minutes during 2-1 loss to Sweden in Dublin after withdrawing five times from the squad and is hopeful of a result in Vienna
Republic of Ireland new boy Anthony Pilkington was left with mixed emotions as the elation of winning his first cap was overshadowed by a 2-1 defeat to Sweden on Friday.

The result leaves Ireland’s World Cup qualification hopes in tatters ahead of three remaining Group C fixtures, starting with Austria away on Tuesday.

“We’re massively disappointed we didn’t get the three points,” Pilkington told Goal after the game in which he played almost 20 minutes as a replacement for James McClean.

“We had a really good start, we scored early and maybe it was a little bit of a sucker punch when they scored. We were on top as well when they scored, they probably stopped us in our tracks a little bit but things like that always happen in football.

"They’ve got on top in the second half and scored again and then we found it difficult to break them down in the last 15 minutes when their backs were against the wall, they were just thinking about defending.”

Giovanni Trapattoni’s men took the lead through Robbie Keane’s 22nd-minute strike but were pegged back by goals either side of the break through Johan Elmander and Anders Svensson.

The 25-year-old Norwich attacker said that he felt comfortable stepping up to international level and also suggested that, for all it’s worth, Ireland were capable of winning in Vienna.

He added: “No, [the pace] was exactly the same, it’s the highest level just like it is in the Premier League. You’re playing against world-class players but it’s just the same in the Premier League week-in, week-out.

“I was over the moon to make my debut but massively disappointed at the same time that we didn’t get the three points. The boys will pick themselves up over the next few days and, hopefully, we can go to Austria and come back with three points," he said.

Previous to this double-header, Pilkington had been called up and withdrawn from five squads, usually with a knee complaint. After the game he indicated that he would be fully fit for Tuesday’s encounter. “It’s fine,” he added. “It has felt really good the last couple weeks so hopefully it will stay like that."