Martin O'Neill expressed his sympathy for Juan Pablo Angel, who missed a penalty and scored an own goal as Aston Villa drew 1-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. The result maintains Villa's unbeaten start to the season but O'Neill knows that his team could easily have lost.
Gareth Barry equalised for Villa with a goal of international quality and a draw seemed to be the most appropriate result, even if O'Neill did lament the two points dropped.
"It was really unfortunate, the own goal," O'Neill said. "We didn't play well enough up until we conceded the goal. I thought we were frustrating in our play. Tottenham were the better side in the first half and we just didn't get any momentum going in the game.
"We hadn't forced too many saves. In the second half, without causing them incredible problems, we started to get a wee bit more momentum going. Obviously not enough. When we get the penalty you think we can score and see the game through. As it turns out, we missed that and Juan puts the ball into his own net.
"From that moment, we were stirred into some of the type of football we have been playing this season and Barry's goal was just fantastic. We had more chances in the final 15 minutes, then the rest of the time.
"I am delighted because we could have packed in for the game and my abiding memory is Barry's fantastic goal and us getting a bit more belief. It was relentless towards the end. I would have been disappointed if there had been no reaction to the goal but the response was far beyond what I thought we would be able to muster at that time."
O'Neill has not decided whether or not Angel will take another penalty for Villa. The Colombia international striker's record is not good: five penalties missed out of his past six.
"Angel scored against Scunthorpe [in the League Cup last month] on the rebound," O'Neill said. "We will have to think about that one. If you get a volume of takers, I'd be delighted. But I don't want anyone just sticking their hand up and saying I might take it if we are leading 5-0. I could take it in those circumstances. The missing of the penalty seemed bad enough but when he puts it into his own net, it makes for a 90 seconds he will want to forget for a while.
"I just thought Juan looked a bit off balance and the 'keeper looked as if he was going to take it comfortably. It was a pretty poor goal. It happened.
"We found the belief after the goal. We know we can play better and it was disappointing with a big crowd and hopefully the people who normally come will tell the newcomers that. We have to keep these people at the ground and something akin of the last 15 minutes is what we want for a sustained period."
Fortunately for Angel, the performance and goal of Barry overshadowed everything else. It seems inconceivable that Barry can be left out of the next England squad.
"The England manager has got a pretty tough job," O'Neill said. "He knows the players but I thought Barry was fantastic today. He sees Aaron Lennon coming on, took a big gulp but it didn't stop him at all and he roared forward when he had the ball and got close to Lennon and tried to impose himself. I thought he was terrific and the goal was superb.
"I wouldn't go overboard about his supposed lack of pace. He is a really good footballer. I just think he would have done himself today no harm at all."
Still, O'Neill is trying to play down Villa's unbeaten start to the season. With Everton losing away to Middlesbrough, Villa are now the only unbeaten team in the Premiership.
"We just have to try and cope until January," O'Neill said. "I thought Didier Agathe did fine for us on his debut. We could do with the major players staying fit. That might be a problem but don't make that a big issue. We are a Premiership club and we are going to have to cope with that."