EURO 2020: Northern Ireland’s George Saville wants six points in the bag after Belarus clash

Northern Ireland George Saville and Estonia's Gert Kams
Northern Ireland George Saville and Estonia's Gert Kams

Northern Ireland midfielder George Saville insists there is still work to be done as they face Belarus in a EURO 2020 qualifier at the National Stadium at Windsor Park on Sunday night.

Michael O’Neill’s men saw off the threat of Estonia 2-0 in their opening group game on Thursday night thanks to goals from Niall McGinn and skipper Steve Davis.

Now they must take on the challenge of Belarus and Saville says they know what they have to do against the so called weaker teams in the group before they take on big guns The Netherlands and Germany later this year.

“The object of this week is to get six points and we’ve done half the job.

“The second bit is on Sunday and it’s super-important to us to get six points going into the next bunch of games in June when we travel to Estonia and Belarus.

“Exactly. It’s important for us to get four wins from these first four games, going into the games against the bigger teams - Holland and Germany - at the back end of the year.

“Thursday was probably not the best performance we’ve had, I think we played much better in the Nations League.

“We played OK – and obviously getting the three points is more important.

“We know the start to this campaign was really important because of the fixtures we have later on in the year.

“It’s a really good start and we want to push on on Sunday and get another three points.”

Saville and midfield partner Davis got bogged down in the first half as they were stopped from playing by the hard working and well organised Estonian midfield.

But Middlesbrough midfielder Saville thought they finally got to grips with their opponents after the break.

“It was tough, they defended well and obviously man-marked us in midfield, stopped us playing.

“It was difficult for the likes of me and ‘Davo’ to get into the game.

“But once it opened up in the second half, they fatigued a little bit, and our quality showed,” he said.

And Saville - who was wining his 20th cap - says it was a struggle in the opening 45 minutes to make his mark in the game.

“It was difficult, it was frustrating for me personally in that first half, couldn’t get going.

“The second half was a completely different game: we played better, moved the ball quicker, did things with a bit more urgency, and took our chances.

“We just needed to press a bit higher, win those second balls, and force them into errors, which they did make a couple of times.

“By the end of it we could have scored three or four. But we are now focused on Belarus and doing a job against them.”