O’Neill pleased with ‘dominant’ Northern Ireland display despite defeat


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‘We’ve played worse and won’ – NI manager Michael O’Neill

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill was full of praise for his team’s performance after their defeat by Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The home side lost 2-1 in their Nations League opener at Windsor Park despite being on top for most of the game.

Goals either side of half-time won it for the Bosnians, with substitute Will Grigg grabbing a late consolation for O’Neill’s men.

“We were dominant from the first minute to the last,” said O’Neill.

“I’m disappointed to lose the game, of course, but there were a lot of positives to take from our performance.

“We gave away two poor goals which is out of character for us, but once again we showed a lot of spirit and created a lot of chances.

“We played some fantastic football, our movement was excellent and for the first 30 minutes the game was played almost entirely in their half.”

It was Edin Dzeko and his Bosnian team-mates who were celebrating at Windsor Park<!–

It was Edin Dzeko and his Bosnian team-mates who were celebrating at Windsor Park

‘It was a clear penalty’

Northern Ireland had a strong claim for a penalty in the opening minute of the match when George Saville looked to have been brought down by Ervin Zukanovic in the area.

The referee waved play on but O’Neill is convinced a spot-kick should have been awarded.

“It was a clear penalty,” he continued.

“George did really well to link up with Steven Davis and make a great break into the box. He has taken it past the defender who committed himself and brought George down.

“I know it was very early in the match but it was a clear foul and the penalty should have been given.”

George Saville<!–

O’Neill felt Northern Ireland should have had a penalty when George Saville was challenged in the box in the first minute

‘Bailey looked assured’

The second Bosnian goal came from a mix-up between home defender Craig Cathcart and debutant Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

But O’Neill said he was happy with the keeper’s performance as well as that of the other young members of the squad.

“Bailey will be disappointed to concede two goals on his debut but I felt he looked assured and confident,” added O’Neill.

“Jamal Lewis was terrific and George Saville also looked great on what was only his third or fourth start for Northern Ireland.

“In fact, there wasn’t a performance from any of my players that I could be disappointed about.

“These games will help prepare us for the Euro qualifiers, but we’re still very much in this competition as well.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/45460581

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