Martin O’Neill criticised referee David Fernandez’s decision to disallow a late goal from Shane Duffy as his Republic of Ireland side played out a 1-1 draw with Austria in World Cup qualifying Group D.

Jonathan Walters’ 85th-minute volley restored parity at the Aviva Stadium, the Stoke City forward thumping home on the half-volley to cancel out Martin Hinteregger’s opener.

Duffy looked to have snatched a dramatic winner with a close-range header shortly after, only for the officials to rule out the goal for an apparent foul from the Ireland defender before he bundled the ball over the line.

But O’Neill – who acknowledged his side’s below-par display in the first half – was adamant that the goal should have stood.

“We were very sloppy in the first half and we never got a grip in the first half at all,” O’Neill told RTE. “We went roaring into it in the second half.

“I’ve seen the replay and the second goal should count. It is a goal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

“I personally think it typified the referee’s performance. He let a lot of things go and if that’s the case, then you think, ‘let this go’. If he’s called a foul from Shane Duffy, I can’t see it.

“The linesman thinks he has given a goal and he’s almost up at the halfway line before he is called back.”

8 – Martin O’Neill is yet to lose a home qualifying match as national team manager of the Republic of Ireland (W5 D3). Fortress.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 11, 2017

Walters’ goal came at the culmination of an improved second-half display from the hosts, but the forward bemoaned Ireland’s sluggish opening 45 minutes.

“The first half we were slow,” Walters told RTE. “It was the opposite of what we said we’d do and the opposite of what we did against Uruguay. 

“We’re still unbeaten, we’re still in it. We said there would be ups and downs in the qualifiers but we’re still in it.”

Ireland’s victory – temporarily at least – lifted them top of Group D, with 12 points from their six games.

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