Ali McCann believes Northern Ireland were unlucky to leave Ukraine empty-handed

Ali McCann believes Northern Ireland were unlucky to leave Dnipro empty-handed after a 1-0 friendly defeat to Ukraine on Thursday night.

By Sports Desk
Friday, 4th June 2021, 1:00 pm

Oleksandr Zubkov’s 10th-minute header proved the difference on the night in an open match which saw both sides have plenty of opportunities.

Euro 2020-bound Ukraine dominated the early going and would have hoped to put the game to bed by half-time, but Northern Ireland came back at them after the break to give Andriy Shevchenko something to think about a little over a week ahead of their opening Group C fixture against Holland.

Ian Baraclough’s side were left to rue some poor defending for the goal as Zubkov was left unmarked at the back post.

Northern Ireland midfielder Ali McCann

“It was a tough game,” McCann said. “I thought it was a poor goal to concede from us and it doesn’t start us off too well, but I thought we grew back into it and put in a good performance in the second half.

“We can probably count ourselves unlucky not to come away with something but it was a good team performance, particularly in the second half, and we can take loads of positives into going into the next camp.”

McCann, who scored his first international goal in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Malta, flashed a header narrowly wide midway through the second half while Paddy McNair sent a stoppage-time free-kick just wide.

The best chance of the night came late in the first half when Ciaron Brown got on the end of a McNair free-kick but saw goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan claw his header to safety.

“I thought it was going in, it was a good save,” McCann said. “Chances like that, if we get them put away we put ourselves in a better position.”

The St Johnstone player once again impressed in midfield, showing why he has been linked with a move to a bigger club this summer.

“I thought it was similar to the team,” he said of his own performance. “In the first half it was a bit bitty, a bit disjointed and then in the second half much better, we moved the ball much quicker and picked them off in higher areas and it was much better to be a part of.”

“(The week) has been brilliant – the more caps you get, just being in and around the camps, it’s a great experience and I’m loving it.”



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