Michael O’Neill felt Northern Ireland’s 1-0 loss to Germany was the “best defeat” they could have hoped for as they wait to see if it is enough to progress to the last 16.
Mario Gomez’s first-half effort was the only goal the world champions had to show for their dominance at the Parc des Princes as goalkeeper Michael McGovern produced a stunning
display for O’Neill’s men to keep the deficit to one.
That protected his side’s goal difference from any serious damage, which could prove significant after Northern Ireland’s 2-0 win over Ukraine was ultimately enough for third spot in Group C.
“We defended for our lives,” the Northern Ireland boss told ITV. “Michael McGovern had a magnificent night in goal. We defended as a team, we gave everything we could give and I don’t think there’s any shame in losing the game 1-0.
“As I say, in terms of it being a defeat, it’s probably the best defeat we could have got in terms of the goal average situation.
“We’ve just got to sit and wait now and hopefully with the three points and what we’ve done in the tournament in the most difficult group… we can manage to get to the round of 16.”
McGovern, who is soon to be out of contract at Scottish Premiership side Hamilton Academical, was impressive throughout in Paris.
The 31-year-old added to BBC Sport: “If it’s good enough to get us through I’ll be immensely proud of this performance, but if not it will be very disappointing.
“I was busy and we were under a lot of pressure. We knew the goal difference was crucial and it was important to keep the score down.”