Euro 2020 Qualifying: Josh Magennis delighted to net winner for Northern Ireland against Belarus
Super-sub Josh Magennis grabbed an 87th minute winner as Northern Ireland beat Belarus 2-1 in a Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium at Windsor Park.
Magennis pounced to score the winner after Igor Stasevich’s deflected shot in the first half had cancelled out Jonny Evans’ opener for the home Nation.
The late strike ensured Northern Ireland had opened the campaign with two wins - having beaten Estonia in Belfast on Thursday night 2-0 - and head the tough Group C which includes The Netherlands and Germany.
Bolton Wanderers striker Magennis was delighted to have made an impact after coming off the bench for Niall McGinn.
“It was brilliant and the place erupted as usual. The thing with the magnitude of the game it was frustrating,” he said.
“They were sitting in deep and making it hard for us to create chances. Thankfully Paddy (McNair) laid it on a plate for me and I thought - don’t miss and thankfully it managed to go in past the keeper.
“It’s a cliché and cheesy but the main thing was the three points and we want 12 points out of the first four games and then we can head towards September, October and November .
“We have started off well and now we have to look forward to June.”
Magennis said it was good for the squad to be sitting top of the group after beating Estonia and Belarus.
“It massive and we want to stay there and we truly believe we can do it. We have done it before and it is all about confidence.
“I think what Michael’s trying to do, the ethos he is trying to progress in the team and what we are trying to achieve and do before the games is coming to fruition. We are trying to develop and we are no longer a one dimensional team as people said before.
“We are trying to break teams down and at times it is not pretty but we have come off the pitch knowing we have won.”
Even with the Germans and Dutch to come later in the campaign, Magennis is sure Michael O’Neill has the squad to make it through to the finals.
“Massive, people always say to me all the time ‘you only come in the good old days’ so since the two campaigns I have played in when we topped the group and went to the Euro Finals.
“And then we got to the play-off final but unfortunately that did not go our way.
“The confidence in the group is massive and you have boys coming in like Jordan Jones, Gavin Whyte and you have boys coming in and there is real depth in the squad. We got Davo, Big G, Jonny and Cathcart so we have got the experience and young Jamal Lewis is a force to be reckoned with.
“It is brilliant and it is exciting times at the minute but we cannot get excited and we are taking it one game at a time.
“Can we enjoy it? One hundred percent but there is no point me standing here if I didn’t think we could go through. I might as well not show up,” he added.