WORLD CUP QUALIFIER: Michael O’Neill hails Northern Ireland’s battling qualities

Northern Ireland goal scorer Jamie Ward with manager Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland goal scorer Jamie Ward with manager Michael O'Neill

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Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill praised his side’s battling qualities following the World Cup qualifying victory over Norway.

First-half goals from Jamie Ward and Conor Washington earned O’Neill’s men a 2-0 victory at Windsor Park.

The result leaves Northern Ireland second in Group C, two points above Czech Republic and five behind leaders Germany.

“It was a fantastic performance, I couldn’t have asked any more,” O’Neill told Sky Sports.

“It was a very competitive game. Norway played very direct and we had to deal with that.

“I thought we competed fantastically and we played some very good football as well.

“To a man, they were fantastic.”

Northern Ireland have not qualified for a World Cup since 1986 but O’Neill believes his side are well-placed to reach next summer’s tournament in Russia.

“It’s a great result for us, a great position we’re in now,” he added.

“There’s still a lot of football to played but when you get to this point, we’ve had five games, four clean sheets.

“The only team to score against us was the world champions and we’ve scored 10 goals at home so there’s a lot of positives in this campaign.

“We just want to maintain the form that we’re in and make sure when the Germans come here and the Czech Republic come here that we’ve a couple of special nights to look forward to.”