Belfast Telegraph

The only way for Northern Ireland now is up, says a delighted Paterson

By Stuart McKinley

Goalscoring hero Martin Paterson took a line from an Ulster-born singer's number one hit when he declared that 'things can only get better' for Northern Ireland.

The Huddersfield Town striker's goal beat Russia to give manager Michael O'Neill his first win as Northern Ireland boss and now Paterson is expecting the result to be the start of a revival for the team.

And he is also promising to deliver more goals in the future.

"Tonight I showed glimpses of what I'm about and I am only going to get better," said a delighted Paterson.

"I think the group is only going to get better too.

"Now we've got to look to kick on for the next game," explained Paterson.

"I think you saw a lot of hunger and group of players who want to be in the team and stay in the team.

"I've missed bits of this campaign, but we've played some good stuff and been unlucky at times. Tonight we got the whole package – the performance, the goal, solid defending, our tactics were spot on and we got the win.

"I think it gives us belief as well."

Paterson had the ball in the net a second time when he headed home again in the second half. He claimed that the linesman got the offside decision wrong and was left frustrated that the chance of a possible hat-trick slipped by too.

"When Craig Cathcart headed it back across goal I thought I was flat. I thought I was onside," said Paterson. "I think it was the wrong decision. I'm a bit gutted about that because I wanted two goals.

"I could have had a hat-trick too. I just missed the one that came back off the post, but when the dust settles I'll take the victory tonight.

"We'll take 1-0 every time."

"The win was much needed for Michael. With the performances and the way we've played he deserves that victory. And I think he deserves if for the way that he has stuck by the way that he wants us to play," added Paterson.

As well as O'Neill getting his first win as manager, it was also Steven Davis' first victory as captain of the team.

Davis said: "I'm just delighted. We have put a lot of work in since Michael took over and we haven't really got our rewards so it was great to get that result, take another big scalp and to see Windsor rocking again.

"Russia are a very good side, that's showed by the number of goals they have conceded in the group so far and the results they've had.

"It's nice to get that monkey off the back and I am sure that Michael feels the same. Hopefully this gives us a good platform to build on."

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