Corry Evans the one bright light for Northern Ireland in Albania
It was a dark night for Northern Ireland in Tirana but manager Nigel Worthington hailed the performance of rising young star Corry Evans.
A superb free-kick in the 25th minute from Ervin Skela sealed a 1-0 win for Albania as Worthington’s men found the going tough on a shocking pitch in Tirana.
Manchester United midfielder Evans was introduced at the break and settled in well after helping the under-21s defeat San Marino 3-0 the previous night.
Worthington said: "It was a good honest performance in the second half, more like Northern Ireland.
"The reason that was the case was young Corry Evans. He came on in midfield and had energy. He wanted the ball and passed well.
"He was neat and tidy. These are the simple things that can help change games.
"I have a lot of time for Corry. I have worked with him the last two and a half years. I have watched him closely and that was a typical Corry Evans performance.
"I must admit it was refreshing to have him here and see what he has achieved tonight."
The 19-year-old may have won admirers with his second half showing but Northern Ireland have now won only three out of 22 games on the road.
Stephen Craigan struck the woodwork twice and Worthington also had words of comfort for the Motherwell defender who went into the match without a goal in 45 internationals. He said: “Stevie doesn't go up on a regular basis but with some players missing he got his opportunity.
“He was a handful. He went and attacked the ball, which he is good at. He was unfortunate but I thought he played very well.”
The first half performance from Northern Ireland in particular was well below par and lacking inspiration.
“I was very impressed with Albania. They played very well in the first half, passed the ball well and created chances,” added Worthington.