Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

McAuley admits frustration at Azerbaijan's time-wasting

Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley was infuriated by Azerbaijan's time-wasting and play-acting in Wednesday night's disappointing 1-1 draw with Berti Vogts' side.

One that got away: Gareth McAuley looks on as another chance goes a-begging at Windsor Park on WednesdayNORTHERN Ireland defender Gareth McAuley was infuriated by Azerbaijan's time-wasting and play-acting in Wednesday night's disappointing 1-1 draw with Berti Vogts' side.

Vogts' well-drilled team took every opportunity to waste time, resulting in Ukrainian referee Victor Shvetsov adding on an extra six minutes, which allowed David Healy to score a late equaliser.

McAuley said: “It was disgraceful. I suppose it is part of their game but some of it was outrageous.

“The number three (Naziri) came off the bench and went down with cramp after only 10 minutes.

“The referee added on six minutes at the end but I'm not sure it was enough.

“It wasn't a reflection on what was going on.

“We were frustrated with the referee but you can't say too much as he was starting to use his card.”

Northern Ireland's third 1-1 draw in a row leaves Michael O'Neill's men with little to look forward to in 2013 but despite the bleak outlook for the rest of the World Cup qualifying campaign, McAuley has assured Northern Ireland fans the players will continue to give their all.

“All you can do, is do the best you can. When you put the green shirt on you've got to give every

thing you can and I think the crowd appreciated that and stuck with us. The last result away to Portugal gave us a bit of belief, but we want to have more good nights at Windsor.

“It's a period of transition for Northern Ireland and we've got to accept that and stay positive.”

On a frustrating night, Northern Ireland missed a string of gilt-edged chances. Although the home side struggled in front of goal, the West Brom defender believes they were the superior side throughout.

“It was frustrating as we were miles better than them — we had them under the cosh, but we missed chance after chance. I think nearly every Northern Ireland player missed a chance.

“We're disappointed in that aspect of our play, but it was a mismatch in terms of what we did in the game compared to them — but that's football sometimes. We just didn't get the rub of the green.

“The positive thing was the crowd was with us all night. The Kop was bouncing for the first time in a long time and we are going to need that sort of atmosphere for the rest of the campaign.”

McAuley bravely played on despite picking up a hamstring injury in the second half, but it is likely to rule him out of West Brom's match against Chelsea tomorrow, a fixture in which he scored last season.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk