Austria’s Valentino Lazaro ended Northern Ireland’s Nations hope for a point in their Nations League group with goal in the last kick of the game at Windsor Park yesterday.
Although Michael O’Neills side knew they had been relegated to the Nations League Group B3 before Sunday’s kick-off, they were determined to put in a positive performance for the home fans. O’Neills men started the game brightly with Liam Boyce causing the Austrian defence to think twice about his calibre. Niall McGinn came closest to scoring when he curled a shot from a Saville free kick just before half time. Austria broke the deadlock four minutes into the second half, when David failed to intercept a low cross from Zulj which fed to Alaba and onto Schlager who got in front of Saville to put it in the far corner.
This spurred the hosts on and Corry Evans equalised for Northern Ireland just seven minutes later after Saville pressed well in midfield, fed the ball to Jordan Jones on the left wing, who slipped it inside to Evans whose deflected left-foot shot blindsided Austrian goalkeeper Heinz Lindner.
Austria enjoyed great spells of possession with Northern Ireland happy to let them do so, hoping to get them on the break however, in the closing seconds of the game Northern Ireland’s Dallas gave the ball away and Arnautovic played in Lazaro to deliver Austria’s second goal.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill told the media in a press conference that he is not concerned about their Nations League relegation, he is nurturing young talent with little international experience and focusing on integrating them into the squad. He will now look ahead to the Euro’s 2020 qualification campaign.
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