Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland 1-3 Germany: We'll take belief from this loss, says O'Neill

By Paul Ferguson

Michael O'Neill has told his Northern Ireland players that any side they face in the World Cup play-offs next month will be inferior to the mighty Germans.

Germany, with a commanding performance, inflicted a competitive defeat upon Northern Ireland at Windsor Park for the first time in four years with a 3-1 victory.

MARK MARLOW 05/11/2017. World cup qualifier for Russia 2018. Northern Ireland vs Germany at The National football stadium at windsor Park in Belfast. Pictured is Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrating a goal during tonights game in Belfast. Picture Mark Marlow
MARK MARLOW 05/11/2017. World cup qualifier for Russia 2018. Northern Ireland vs Germany at The National football stadium at windsor Park in Belfast. Pictured is Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrating a goal during tonights game in Belfast. Picture Mark Marlow
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans brings the ball away after challenging Germany's Sebastian Rudy (floor) for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Germany's Thomas Muller (centre) heads at goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland.Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans and Germany's Sebastian Rudy (left) battle for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington with Germany's Jerome Boateng during Thursdays World Cup Qualifier at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Germany's Joshua Kimmich celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game with his team-mates during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland.Niall Carson/PA Wire.
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MARK MARLOW 05/11/2017. World cup qualifier Northern Ireland vs Germany at The National football stadium at windsor Park in Belfast. Pictured is Germanys Joshua Kimmich celebrating a goal during tonights game in Belfast. Picture Mark Marlow
Northern Ireland Josh Magennis and Germany Mats Hummels during Thursday night's FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group C Qualifier at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans and Germany's Leon Goretzka in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington and Germany's Matts Hummells and Jerome Boateng in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas and Germany's Joshua Kimmich in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (left) and Germany's Julian Draxler battle for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland.Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 05/10/2017 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern IrelandÕs Josh Magennis during this evenings game at the National Stadium in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 05/10/2017 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C N Ireland during this evenings game at the National Stadium in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans with Germany's Mats Hummels during Thursdays World Cup Qualifier at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
October 5th 2017 - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Group C Northern Ireland V Germany - National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis and Germany's Marvin Plattenhardt.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis and Germany's Marvin Plattenhardt in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 05/10/2017 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern IrelandÕs Michael McGovern as GermanyÕs Sandro Wagner makes it 2-0 during this evenings game at the National Stadium in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis and Germany's Marvin Plattenhardt in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th October 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Conor McLaughlin with Germany's Sandro Wagner during Thursdays World Cup Qualifier at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Pacemaker Belfast 5-10-17 Northern Ireland v Germany - World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Germany's Mats Hummels during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 05/10/2017 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern Ireland Manager Michael OÕNeill during this evenings game at the National Stadium in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 05/10/2017 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern Ireland Manager Michael OÕNeill during this evenings game at the National Stadium in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis and Germany's Marvin Plattenhardt in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans and Germany's Marvin Plattenhardt in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 05/10/2017 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C.
Northern Ireland v Germany - World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley and Germany's Jerome Boateng during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Germany - World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Germany's Mats Hummels during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson and Germany's Leon Goretzka in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis and Germany's Marvin Plattenhardt in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Pacemaker Belfast 5-10-17 Northern Ireland v Germany - World Cup Qualifier Group C Germany's Sebastian Rudy scores his goal during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 5th October 2017 FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 - Qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland Vs Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, south Belfast. Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley goes up for a cross in the Germany box. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 5th October 2017 FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 - Qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland Vs Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, south Belfast. Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis with Germany's Joshua Kimmich. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis and Germany's Marvin Plattenhardt in action during the World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast on October 4th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 5th October 2017 FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 - Qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland Vs Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, south Belfast. Germany team line out Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 5th October 2017 FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 - Qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland Vs Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, south Belfast. The teams line out Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Joachim Low's men scored inside two minutes after a stunning strike from Sebastian Rudy, doubled their advantage through Sandro Wagner and then sealed the win in the last 10 minutes through Joashua Kimmich.

Josh Magennis headed home a much deserved consolation goal for Northern Ireland.

"It's a huge education for our players and it will serve us well, admitted O'Neill.

"One thing I'll say about playing Germany, whoever you play after seems a lot easier. Should we be in the play-offs in November we can take belief and strength from this performance."

While Germany, with the win last night, qualified for the World Cup finals Northern Ireland are still not officially assured of their place in the play-offs.

Victory against Norway on Sunday would eradicate all the doubt. But O'Neill, before he prepares fcr Sunday's clash in Oslo, is still coming to terms with last night's defeat and how his players had to battle back after that early goal from Rudy - which was suker punch for Northern Ireland.

"It's the worst start we could have had," sighed O'Neill.

"There's very little you could do about it, maybe the clearance could have been better, but the quality of the strike so early in the game, we probably had a number of players who hadn't touched the ball.

"It never gave us a chance to settle into the game, the approach we had was designed to stay in the game as long as possible, you can't go and chase it too early against a team of this quality. It made it difficult for us, the first 15, 20 minutes it really knocked us back."

Northern Ireland, with a mix of Premier League, Championship, League One and Scottish Premiership players were playing against some of the biggest superstars in the game.

O'Neill believes his players will have benefitted from last night's experience as the number one team in the world and he admitted as a coach it was the most formidable challenge of his managerial career. He added: "As a coach there's no bigger challenge to try and set your team up to play against that level of opposition.

"I'm not sure if there's a system you can come up with that can contain Germany. The quality of their play at times is breathtaking, in terms of how they move the ball and the movement of their players. Even our players in the Premier League, they'll get that level when they play against the top sides in the Premier League, not when they play teams who are just in it.

"That level of movement, how you deal with that, is at the highest level. We had two League One players, Championship players, they don't play that style and against players of that calibre.

"They had five Bayern Munich players in starting line-up.

Pacemaker Belfast 5-10-17
Northern Ireland v Germany - World Cup Qualifier Group C
Northern Ireland's fans during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-10-17 Northern Ireland v Germany - World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern Ireland's fans during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 5th October 2017 FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 - Qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland Vs Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, south Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured during the match Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 5th October 2017 FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 - Qualifying Group C - Northern Ireland Vs Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, south Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured during the match Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Pacemaker Belfast 5-10-17 Northern Ireland v Germany - World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern Ireland's fans during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th October 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Germany fans during Thursdays World Cup Qualifier against Northern Ireland at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th October 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland fans during Thursdays World Cup Qualifier against Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th October 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland fans during Thursdays World Cup Qualifier against Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. P
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th October 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland fans during Thursdays World Cup Qualifier against Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th October 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland fans during Thursdays World Cup Qualifier against Germany at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.
October 5th 2017 - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Group C Northern Ireland V Germany - National Football Stadium at Windsor Park
October 5th 2017 - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Group C Northern Ireland V Germany - National Football Stadium at Windsor Park
October 5th 2017 - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Group C Northern Ireland V Germany - National Football Stadium at Windsor Park
October 5th 2017 - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Group C Northern Ireland V Germany - National Football Stadium at Windsor Park
October 5th 2017 - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Group C Northern Ireland V Germany - National Football Stadium at Windsor Park
October 5th 2017 - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Group C Northern Ireland V Germany - National Football Stadium at Windsor Park
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland and Germany fans during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea waves to the crowd before the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan wearing a scarf during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 5, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS:

"I would imagine in Russia at the finals Germany are going to have a fantastic squad and possibly even a stronger squad than four years ago. It just seems to be there's a never-ending conveyer belt of talent coming through.

"They'll be a formidable team to beat in Russia."

Northern Ireland fly to Oslo this morning for the game on Sunday night.

"We are second in the group n and that won't change, whatever happens on Sunday," states O'Neill. "The play-off game will take care of itself regardless of what happens in Norway, providing we're in it."

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