Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Little rues Northern Ireland's 'criminal' defence

Netherlands v Northern Ireland at the Amsterdam Arena
Northern Ireland's Josh Carson and Will Grigg
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

Andy Little bemoaned a "criminal" first-half performance from Northern Ireland after they slumped to a 6-0 defeat in Holland.



Michael O'Neill's side were significantly under-strength, with no fewer than 10 senior men out, and were no match for a Dutch side playing their final Euro 2012 warm-up in front of a sold-out Amsterdam ArenA.

Robin van Persie and Ibrahim Afellay both scored twice, with Wesley Sneijder and Ron Vlaar also on target.

And while the result always seemed a formality, Rangers forward Little was disappointed with the way his side went about their business in the opening 45 minutes.

They were 4-0 down at the break having conceded from a corner, a free-kick and a penalty inside half an hour.

"It was absolutely criminal to concede three early goals from set pieces and that set the tone for the entire game," said Little.

"I know there was a lot of inexperience in the team but I felt we could have done better.

"We spoke about that and worked hard to make sure we didn't give them any advantage from free-kicks or corners. However, their first goal came from a corner, the second from a free-kick and the third was a penalty. It's hard to take really.

"Holland are a great team but we didn't really test them like we should have done."

O'Neill, taking charge of the side for the second time, called on his young side to learn from the experience after last night's game but Little struggled to take any heart from the humbling.

"There can be no real positives from a 6-0 defeat," said the Rangers man.

"We just have to go away and regroup and make sure we learn a big lesson from this defeat.

"It was good to play in a stadium like the that but I'm just really disappointed about the performance and result."

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