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O'Neill hails 'magnificent' effort as Northern Ireland fall short against Germany

10 Sep 2019, 03:12 IST
michael o
Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Michael O'Neill praised his players for a "magnificent effort" against Germany but accepted Northern Ireland will see their 2-0 defeat as a missed opportunity.

Joachim Low's side moved level on 12 points with Northern Ireland in Euro 2020 qualifying Group C on Monday thanks to second-half goals from Marcel Halstenberg and Serge Gnabry.

The home side missed good chances through Conor Washington at Windsor Park until Halstenberg's superb strike three minutes into the second half broke their resistance, with Gnabry adding a second deep into injury time.

O'Neill could not fault the spirit of his players but was frustrated they did not make the most of their chances.

"They gave everything they had," he told Sky Sports. "In the first half they were magnificent, should have been ahead, and when we reflect on the game it was a missed opportunity.

"We were punished at the beginning of the second half. Maybe Germany lifted a gear as well and it's a magnificent goal from the full-back. To be fair to the lads, they came again, we created a couple of chances, but it wasn't to be.

"We managed to stop them building the game and got joy off pressing and winning the ball higher up the pitch. It's very difficult to do that against this level of opposition. I think they had words in their own dressing room at half-time and they have intelligent game players.

"It's a massive jump for a lot of our players to play at this level. I'm proud of what they gave. We have to give a level of performance against the Netherlands and Germany now and, if we get the chance to go ahead, we have to take it."

Northern Ireland face Netherlands in Rotterdam in their next qualifier on October 10.

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