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Northern Ireland would have played better in a competitive match: Alan Mannus

By Adam McKendry

Published 16/11/2016

Croatia's midfielder Mario Mandzukic (R) scores his team's first goal past Northern Ireland's goalkeeper Alan Mannus during the friendly international football match between Northern Ireland and Croatia at Windsor Park in Belfast on November 15, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Croatia's midfielder Mario Mandzukic (R) scores his team's first goal past Northern Ireland's goalkeeper Alan Mannus during the friendly international football match between Northern Ireland and Croatia at Windsor Park in Belfast on November 15, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Vauxhall International Challenge match - Northern Ireland Vs Croatia at National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland fans Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.
Vauxhall International Challenge match - Northern Ireland Vs Croatia at National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland fans Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.
Vauxhall International Challenge match - Northern Ireland Vs Croatia at National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland fans Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.
Croatia's Duje Cop (right) celebrates scoring his sides second goal of the game with team mates during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Northern Ireland's forward Josh Magennis (L) vies with Croatia's defender Marin Leovac during the friendly international football match between Northern Ireland and Croatia at Windsor Park in Belfast on November 15, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Croatia's midfielder Mario Mandzukic (C) is congratulated by teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the friendly international football match between Northern Ireland and Croatia at Windsor Park in Belfast on November 15, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic scores during the game at Windsor Park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic scores in action during the game at Windsor Park on November 15th 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Zak Brennan on the pitch with dad Gareth during the Northern Ireland and Croatia game at Windsor Park on November 15th 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic scores in action during the game at Windsor Park on November 15th 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland Josh Magennis and Croatia Marin Leovac during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Vauxhall International Challenge match - Northern Ireland Vs Croatia at National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn with Croatia's Marko Rog Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.
Vauxhall International Challenge match - Northern Ireland Vs Croatia at National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce with Croatia's goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.
Croatia Duje Cop celebrates his goal during this evenings game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg at Windsor. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic scores in action during the game at Windsor Park on November 15th 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland Paddy McNair and Croatia Marko Rog during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -15th November 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Croatia Mario Mandzukic scores a goal against Northern Ireland during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic scoring against Northern Ireland during Tuesday nights International Friendly at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic scoring against Northern Ireland during Tuesday nights International Friendly at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic celebrates scoring against Northern Ireland during Tuesday nights International Friendly at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce with Croatia's Ivan Vargic during Tuesday night's International Friendly at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans with Croatia's Milan Badelj during Tuesday night's International Friendly at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce with Croatia's Matej Mitrovic during Tuesday night's International Friendly at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Tuesday night's international friendly against Croatia at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans Dexter and Rio faulkner from Lisburn enjoy the match against Croatia during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland fans Paul and Carter (8) Foster from Dromara enjoy the match against Croatia during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland fans Keith McGuigan and Kurtis Bain Dromore enjoy the match against Croatia during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland fans Leslie and Daniel Burke /(11) from Newtownards enjoy the match against Croatia during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland fans Colin Baxter and grandson Matthew Dickson (7) from Tandragee enjoy the match against Croatia during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland fans Jenna and Andrew Mullholland from Antrim enjoy the match against Croatia during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland fans Paula Coulter,Noreen Steenson and Sandra Coulter from Belfast enjoy the match against Croatia during Tuesday night's Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland fans during Tuesday night's international friendly against Croatia at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Tuesday night's international friendly against Croatia at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Tuesday night's international friendly against Croatia at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Tuesday night's international friendly against Croatia at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Tuesday night's international friendly against Croatia at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Tuesday night's international friendly against Croatia at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Croatia fans expelled for holding political symbols during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Fans during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Croatia's Manager Ante Cacic during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA

Northern Ireland goalkeeper Alan Mannus has claimed that Northern Ireland were not in the right mindset for their game against Croatia because it was just a friendly.

Michael O'Neill's men surrendered their unbeaten run at Windsor Park after losing to the Croatians. But stopper Mannus, who played all 90 minutes of the match in the absence of Michael McGovern, said they struggled due to the nature of the match.

"If it was competitive I think everything would have been approached differently," the St Johnstone man admitted.

"Their play was top class and it was a difficult game for us with it being a friendly. It's not the same for the players as it is for a competitive game.

"They were excellent throughout the game, their movement and their passing was just miles ahead of us I thought."

The 34-year also reflected on one of Northern Ireland's worst defensive performances in several years after they conceded three goals, their heaviest defeat since their 6-0 defeat to Holland in 2012.

A defensive mix up let Mandzukic open the scoring in just the ninth minute, and then Cop stole in unmarked to add the second. The game was capped off by a fantastic strike by man of the match Kramaric who hammered home a 25-yard effort.

Mannus confessed they were disappointed with how they performed, but still believed there were positives to be taken.

"It is disappointing from our perspective that we conceded three goals and we didn't score obviously," Mannus admitted.

"But there are still positives to take - some of the guys got game time that don't normally, like myself."

Belfast Telegraph

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