FRUSTRATRATION was the buzzword at Windsor Park on Tuesday night following a disastrous result against Luxembourg in the World Cup qualifier.
Michael O’Neill’s team failed to build on a wonderful start, which helped cultivate a brilliantly taken early opener by Dean Shiels – his first goal for his country
Instead of killing off a laborious visiting team – made up from a posse of part-time players – Northern Ireland were punished late in the game when Daniel Alves De Mota’s shot ricocheted off the body of the unfortunate Ryan McGivern into the net for an unlikely equaliser.
“We are frustrated and disappointed,” admitted defender Aaron Hughes.
“We did really well in the first half, but for some reason, we never appeared for the second 45 minutes. We never picked up where we left off.
“They (Luxembourg) pressed us a little bit harder and we struggled at times. At 1-0 you always run the risk of something like that happening. We had chances to kill off the game, but unfortunately, we didn’t take them.
“When you are in control, as we were in the first half, and don’t punish teams, you are always in danger of conceding a soft goal.
“We became a little bit nervous – the crowd became nervous. It seemed that everyone was just waiting for it to happen.
“We had a good performance on Friday (against Russia), without getting a result and we came to Windsor intending to keep the standard high. Unfortunately, we lit it slip in the second half.”
Only seconds before that body blow equaliser, Chris Brunt had the chance to wrap up the points, having being presented with a gild-edged chance.
Sadly, the West Brom man, lashed his shot against a post.
“He was unlucky,” added Hughes.
“The goalkeeper expected Bruntie to go for the far post, so he half anticipated the shot. Bruntie then tried to roll it in at the near post.
“Had that gone in, it would have been a different game. At 1-0 anything can happen, no matter how much you are dominating a game. A second goal is usually a killer.
“It’s only the second game. We’ve now got to go and make up the points we have lost out on against Luxembourg. We’ll have to pick them up on the road somewhere.
“It will be difficult – but we must try to recover from two points lost.”