Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Euro 2012: Northern Ireland 1-2 Estonia

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland's Lee Hodson with Estonia's Martin Vunk during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington after Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v Estonia Estonia's Konstantin Vassiljev scores a penalty during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastN.Irelands Grant McCann and Estonias Andrei Stepanovin action at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland's Chris Baird with Estonia's Dmitri Kruglov during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland's David Healy is dejected after being defeated by Estonia in Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
Northern Ireland Manger Nigel Worthington during the Euro 2012 Group C Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday October 7, 2011. See PA Story: SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastEstonias Konstantin Vassiljev celebrates his second goal at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 7th Octobner 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Euro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured during the match.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 7th Octobner 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Euro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured during the match.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 7th Octobner 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Euro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured during the match.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 7th Octobner 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Euro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park in Belfast. Northern Ireland's Steven Davis(right) celebrates with teammate Pat McCourt after he scores to make it 1-0.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011Mandatory Credit-Picture by Brian Little/Presseye.comEuro 2012 Qualifying matchNorthern Ireland's ÊChris Brunt and Estonia's Ragnar Klavan during Friday night's Euro 2012 Qualfying match at Windsor Park, Belfast.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011Mandatory Credit-Picture by Brian Little/Presseye.comEuro 2012 Qualifying matchNorthern Ireland's ÊCorry Evans and Estonia's Andrei Stepanov during Friday night's Euro 2012 Qualfying match at Windsor Park, Belfast.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011Mandatory Credit-Picture by Brian Little/Presseye.comEuro 2012 Qualifying matchNorthern Ireland's Steven Davis and Estonia's Alexsandr Dmitrijev during Friday night's Euro 2012 Qualfying match at Windsor Park, Belfast.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011Mandatory Credit-Picture by Brian Little/Presseye.comEuro 2012 Qualifying matchNorthern Ireland's Pat McCourt and Estonia's Ragnar Klavan during Friday night's Euro 2012 Qualfying match at Windsor Park, Belfast.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastN.Irelands Gareth McAuley gets a yellow card at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastN.Irelands Cory Evans and Estonias Sergei Pareiko in action at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland's David Healy is dejected after being defeated by Estonia in Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington after Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastN.Irelands Kyle Lafferty and Estonias Raio Piiroja in action at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland's Gareth McAuley is dejected after being defeated by Estonia in Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland's Craig Cathcart during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastN.Irelands Grant McCann and Estonias leksander Dmitrijev in action at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastEstonias Konstantin Vassiljev celebrates his second goal at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastEstonias Konstantin Vassiljev celebrates his second goal at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland's Corry Evans with Estonia's Andrei Stepanov during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastN.Irelands Kyle Lafferty and Estonias Aleksander Dmitrijev in action at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 07th October 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/PresseyeEuro 2012 qualifier - Northern Ireland v EstoniaNorthern Ireland's Craig Cathcart during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia at Windsor Park.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-7th October 2011 Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.comEuro 2012 qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland v Estonia at Windsor Park, BelfastN.Irelands Grant McCann and Estonias leksander Dmitrijev in action at Friday nights Euro 2012 Qualifier match at Windsor Park.©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington was left stunned by the decision to allow Estonia's winner as his Northern Ireland side slipped to another disappointing defeat.

They started the day with a slender chance of challenging for second spot in Group C and a Euro 2012 play-off, but left Windsor Park with a 2-1 loss to Estonia and the prospect of finishing fifth.

They were leading through Steven Davis' first-half strike until the 77th minute, before Konstantin Vassiljev scored twice in quick succession to take the points.

The first came from the penalty spot, with Craig Cathcart the guilty party, but the second was the one that infuriated the players.

It was a stunning strike from 30 yards but a linesman's flag had been raised in the build-up.

"It's difficult to take, it's frustrating, it's disappointing," said Worthington, whose hopes of a new contract took another blow today.

"There's a natural reaction (the winning goal). My reaction was no different to that of the players. I saw the flag go up, turned round to get a drink of water and all of a sudden the ball has hit back of the net.

"There's no point in having people there to help the referee if you're not going to take any notice of them.

"But I'm not one to moan about anybody. Everyone can make their own opinions about the referee."

Worthington was seen in conversation with the fourth official as his players protested against the 84th-minute strike, but he was unable to glean anything helpful from the exchange.

"He was as dumbfounded as I was, but it isn't going to change now so we move on," said Worthington.

Having been subjected to some negative chants following last month's 4-1 defeat in Tallinn, it was expected that Worthington would be given another rough ride by the fans.

There were a small number of banners and a portion of the crowd called for the manager's exit at the final whistle, but Worthington remained stoic.

"The fans are as frustrated and disappointed as I am," he said.

"It's the game and I've been in football long enough to get on with it. There's no excuses, no hiding places."

With just one more match left before the end of his current deal, a tough assignment against group winners Italy in Pescara on Tuesday, Worthington's future will be decided sooner rather than later.

Quizzed on his chances of taking charge of a third full campaign, he added: "I haven't got a clue. That's the million dollar question.

"A win is what myself and the players wanted. What other people make decisions on is up to them. I'm employed until December 31 and I've enjoyed the role.

"I'm working with a great group of players and you try and make the most of that group. I think over the course of this campaign we have."

Of more immediate concern to Worthington will be plugging some new gaps in his squad before flying to Italy on Sunday.

Frontman Kyle Lafferty, only just back in the side after injury, is suspended following his yellow card, while Sammy Clingan is a doubt after being forced off after half an hour with a back spasm.

Goalkeeper Lee Camp also has a knock, meaning there could be one final cap for veteran Maik Taylor on Tuesday.

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