Friday, July 19, 2019

O´Neill revels in Northern Ireland´s perfect record

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Jun 2019

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Michael O’Neill was thrilled after Northern Ireland came from behind to extend their winning run in Euro 2020 qualifying with a 2-1 victory at Estonia.

Konstantin Vassiljev’s first-half free-kick had the hosts 1-0 up with 13 minutes left in Tallinn but two goals in three minutes turned the game around, with a Conor Washington strike deflecting in off Josh Magennis to equalise.

Substitute Magennis then netted a clever winner himself to maintain Northern Ireland’s 100 per cent record in Group C.

“We’re delighted with the three wins and we have another game we have to try and win on Tuesday [against Belarus], then we can look forward to huge games against Netherlands and Germany,” O’Neill told BBC Sport. “We’ll enjoy tonight, recover quickly and get ready to play on Tuesday.”

O’Neill made attacking changes, including the introduction of Magennis, with his tweaks helping his side turn the game around.

“I’m pleased with the result, we had to make the substitutions that we made and ended up with maybe too many attacking players on the pitch,” O’Neill added.

“But I felt that a draw would not have been any use to us and I felt we had to try and get back into the game and win it. We talked about going to 4-4-2 at half-time and resisted that for about 10 or 15 minutes and then we got ourselves level.

“We had to get energy into the team. It was very hot out there and when you go behind it’s doubly difficult. Estonia were on the front foot and they had a boost, you could see that in their play.

“But we clawed our way back into the game, created a lot of chances before we scored and it was great to get the goals that we did. In the end we deserved the win.

“It’s not easy, the mental side of these games is very difficult with players at the end of a long season, players who are without clubs and players who haven’t played a lot of minutes for their clubs.

“We have a lot of players who did not have the easiest of seasons with their club situations but they’re here in June, playing for their country, and they gave a great show.

“I’m pleased for Conor Washington as he’s had a very difficult season, he’s hardly played any first team football, but he showed what he’s about tonight. Josh came in from a difficult situation at Bolton and again gets on the scoresheet.

“Jordan Jones made a great difference as well and dragged the boys through. Young Gavin White and Paddy McNair did well in the second half as well.”

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