Dunne rues missed opportunity of beating World Champions
Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne didn't hide his disappointment at conceding a late goal in the 2-2 draw against Italy in Saturday's World Cup qualifier at Croke Park.
Ireland led twice in the game and their second goal by Sean St. Ledger two minutes from time appeared enough to seal victory for the home side and bring the group leadership down to the final game next Wednesday.
Instead, the Irish switched off momentarily as full-time approached, sufficient for Alberto Gilardino to ghost in and plunder a late equaliser.
It avoided a maiden loss in the campaign for the World Champions and their first reverse for over three years in competitive action since France defeated them early in the EURO 2008 qualifiers.
Italy have wrapped up automatic qualification by taking the point while Ireland must negotiate their route through the play-offs, their opposition to be revealed at the draw on Monday week.
Aston Villa defender Dunne said of the 2-2 draw: "We got ourselves into a good position to win the game but threw it away. We got caught on the break on 90 minutes which is not the way good teams do it.
"It's very disappointing. Tonight, it's not so much a problem but if it happened next month it could end our chances of getting to the World Cup
"It was the best atmosphere I've played in at Croke Park. But it was surreal when they scored to make it 2-2. It really sums us up as it looked like we were on our way to a good night, giving ourselves a boost and making people wary of us when it comes around to the play-off draw. It's disappointing for us to throw it away in the last minute and I'm sure it's the same for the fans."
He added: "It think experience played a part. A lot of players in our team are in their first or second campaign and we hadn't been such a position for about eight years. I think it's something we can learn from for the important games next month. We can learn from this and make sure we keep it tight when we go in front."