Michael O’Neill regret at Northern Ireland’s ‘wasted opportunities’ against Germany

A frustrated Michael O'Neill during defeat to Germany. Pic by Pacemaker.
A frustrated Michael O'Neill during defeat to Germany. Pic by Pacemaker.
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Michael O’Neill called Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Germany a “wasted opportunity”.

O’Neill’s side dropped their first points of the campaign after Marcel Halstenberg’s thunderous half-volley and a stoppage-time strike from Serge Gnabry earned Germany a 2-0 win.

Given the gulf in class between the two sides the result was hardly unexpected but O’Neill still felt the sting of disappointment after seeing first-half chances - most notably for Conor Washington - go begging.

“It’s hugely disappointing to lose the game,” O’Neill said. “I think we wasted opportunities and I said that to the players.

“I was proud of how we played, we played with intensity, we played with energy, but when you get chances of the nature that we had against Germany you have to take them and we didn’t take them.”

Roared on by an electric atmosphere, Northern Ireland started the game firmly on the front foot and went close twice through Washington in the opening minutes but could not capitalise on some hesitant defending from Germany, who conceded four second-half goals to Holland on Friday.

O’Neill knew a goal then would have changed everything.

“Then you see what Germany’s mentality would be if they had gone behind,” he said. “But they punished us in the second half and showed their quality.

“It’s a lot harder chasing the ball when you’re behind as opposed to when they’re level.”

Halstenberg’s strike came just three minutes into the second half. Northern Ireland were clearly rocked by the goal, but they did create further chances, the best of them dragged wide by Stuart Dallas, before Gnabry scored the second.

“I thought we were really going to struggle to get back into the game but we did manage to get back in it with some half-chances,” O’Neill said. “I thought the second goal had no relevance on the game, it’s not something that gives me any concern.”