Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Northern Ireland v Italy: Players rue one that got away

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis battles Italy's Andrea Pirlo
Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle
Warren Feeney and Stefano Mauri (right)

Grant McCann revealed that the Northern Ireland dressing room atmosphere was tinged with disappointment at last night's 0-0 draw with Italy.

Amazingly a scoreless battle with a country which has won the World Cup four times wasn't satisfactory to a group of players who have become used to toppling top sides at Windsor Park.

And even goalkeeper Maik Taylor — who kept a third competitive clean sheet in a row — was experiencing mixed emotions as only one point was garnered when three were desired.

“I sat in the dressing room with David Healy and he's really disappointed,” said Peterborough midfielder McCann.

“We could have been looking at three points. We created chances and worked hard to stop Italy from breaking us down.

“We tracked their runners and didn't give them room and restricted them to very few chances.

“There are a lot of positives for us to take from the game.

“We've four points from two games which is very good at this stage and hopefully we can go to the Faroe Islands on Tuesday and make it seven.”

Taylor made two excellent stops as the game drew towards a close, which ensured the point was collected.

It meant that he was the hero of the night, with the strikers or midfielders unable to claim that honour.

“I thought we played very well and we got stronger as the game went on,” said Taylor.

“We'd have settled for a point before and it's a good result, but we could have won it and we'd a couple of chances to do that.

“Italy showed us great respect in the early part of the game and they played well. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we'd prepared for that.

“As far as we're concerned it's a job well done. A point is good, but in the last ten minutes we could have nicked it. Overall it was an excellent performance.”

If Taylor can keep another clean sheet in the Faroes then there is every chance that three points can be collected — and he doesn't care how they come.

“The performance doesn't matter in the Faroe Islands, it's all about getting three points.”

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