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Classy Germans were simply out of this world: Oliver Norwood

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland midfielder Oliver Norwood described Germany as the toughest opponents he has ever faced in his career.

The world champions put on a dynamic and dominant display that, at times, left Michael O'Neill's men chasing shadows.

The Reading star admitted that Germany were just too strong on the night they won 1-0 in Paris as both sides made it through to the knockout stages.

"Sometimes you have to hold your hands up when you're playing the world champions," said Norwood.

"By far Germany are the best side I've faced.

"It was a hard night, hard on the legs. Our recovery is going to be important now for the last 16."

Norwood was full of praise for Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern.

Without his sensational display in goal the men in green may have been hammered.

"We've got Michael to thank for helping keep our goal difference at zero," said Norwood.

"He was unbelievable, all the saves he made. Obviously we knew it was going to be tough after we got the win against Ukraine and the lads were buzzing going into it. Playing the world champions in Paris was a fantastic experience and we still have more to come in this tournament."

Northern Ireland will now play either Wales or France in the knockout stages. Asked about the prospect of facing Wales, Norwood said: "If it's Wales it will be a British encounter. We played them not that long ago in a friendly, but I'm sure it will be a lot different this time. We know each other well, and if it is them then so be it.

"We've got three points which is three more points than people said we would get. We'll take it easy now. We have to get our recovery right and make sure we're ready to go again."

Belfast Telegraph