Matchwinner Josh Magennis hailed Northern Ireland’s team spirit as they left it late to snatch victory over Belarus and move top of Group C in Euro 2020 qualifying.
Magennis came off the bench at Windsor Park and netted an 87th-minute winner to seal a 2-1 victory on Sunday, giving Northern Ireland a maximum six-point return from their first two games.
Michael O’Neill’s side took the lead through Jonny Evans in the first half, but the hosts were only ahead for three minutes as Igor Stasevich equalised via a deflection.
The hosts piled on the pressure in the second half and eventually Belarus’ resistance was broken as Magennis slid in to convert Stuart Dallas’ low cross.
And the Bolton Wanderers forward felt that was the least they deserved for their efforts, telling Sky Sports: “The rest of the lads had done the job, I was just blessed to be the one to come on and score.
“That is what Michael O’Neill asks of his substitutes to come on and try and make a difference. We are a team that finds a way of winning.
“We have got a squad that is developing and got a good balance with young lads like Jordan Jones and Gavin Whyte coming through and the experienced guys like Jonny Evans shoring it up at the back.”
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) March 24, 2019
O’Neill credited “big performances all over the pitch” for the victory and praised his side’s persistence against Belarus’ dogged backline.
“Delighted obviously with the win and I thought we played very well again,” he said.
“I was disappointed with the way we conceded the goal but we were in control of the game until the opening goal.
“It is hard to create sometimes, we put good balls into the box, but the set-piece worked well for the opener.
“We learned good lessons on concentration as well, it is big for some of the players coming in and there were big performances all over the pitch.”
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