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N.Ireland own up to shortcomings after Poland defeat

Football Soccer - Poland v Northern Ireland - EURO 2016 - Group C - Stade de Nice, Nice, France - 12/6/16 Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty looks dejected after the game REUTERS/Eddie Keogh/ Livepic
Football Soccer - Poland v Northern Ireland - EURO 2016 - Group C - Stade de Nice, Nice, France - 12/6/16Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty looks dejected after the gameREUTERS/Eddie Keogh/ Livepic

NICE, France (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's players quickly acknowledged they were not up to standard after producing a lacklustre display in a 1-0 Euro 2016 Group C defeat by Poland on Sunday.

Captain Steven Davis spoke about his side needing to improve with the ball while Gareth McAuley said their intentions had gone little further than to stage a smash-and-grab raid.

"It was a difficult evening for us. I think we need to be braver, need to be better on the ball...to get anything from the group," explained Davis.

"It wasn't good enough in the end. We defended decently but we needed to ... create some chances for ourselves."

Northern Ireland, who still have to face world champions Germany and Ukraine in Group C, overcame their limitations to qualify for their first major tournament in 30 years and before Sunday were unbeaten in 12 matches.

"We set up to get a clean sheet and nick something, then they scored and we had to come out," said defender McAuley.

"Maybe in the second game (against Ukraine on Thursday) we will be a bit more positive because we have nothing to lose. We have got to win and play on the front foot. We are just disappointed for the supporters."

Forward Kyle Lafferty said it was "not a Northern Ireland performance".

"We knew it was going to be tough. I'm not going to blame anyone else," he added. "Unfortunately we didn't turn up today."

Coach Michael O'Neill agreed that his players were not creative enough.

"There's a sense of disappointment that we didn't do as much with the ball as we could have done," he said.

"We tried to get something out of it but didn't manage to create anything of significance. In all honesty the best team won."

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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