Belfast Telegraph

Watch: The GAWA don't stop believin' as Northern Ireland attention turns to Oslo

World Cup dream still  alive despite 3-1 loss as  Norway game beckons

Words by Adrian Rutherford; Video by Ben Tucker

It is down to the wire for Northern Ireland's World Cup dreams.

The road to Russia hit a bump as Germany crashed the party, winning 3-1 in Belfast on a night of disappointment for the Green and White Army.

Michael O'Neill's side now probably need something from the final qualifier in Norway on Sunday to secure a play-off place.

The 18,000-plus fans packed inside the national stadium had the place rocking.

And while they couldn't quite inspire an unlikely win against the world champions, the post-match mood was still one of optimism.

"We're not Brazil, we're Northern Ireland," they sang at the final whistle.

And it's true, Northern Ireland are better than that. The last time Germany played Brazil, they put seven past them.

Here, it was just the three.

It had looked bleak when Northern Ireland went a goal down inside 80 seconds.

They trailed 2-0 at half-time, but rallied in the second half.

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

The 3-1 defeat failed to shake supporters' hopes of making the finals next summer.

Rob Gamble from Bangor said: "I'm still confident - for sure - and I thought the fans tonight were incredible. The support was brilliant.

"It was great to be here."

Roger Irvine, also from Bangor, said: "Hopefully the team can take the momentum from the campaign into the last game and get a positive result.

"I'm not going to Oslo on Sunday but I'll be watching from home."

A visit from the world champions is always an occasion to quicken the pulses.

The last trophy holders to come to town had been France in 1999.

Only 11,800 turned up that night, with rows of empty seats - not so this time.

But then, these are very different times.

Such was the clamour for tickets they could have sold double last night's attendance of 18,104 - and much more.

From early evening fans clad in green and white were snaking their way through the narrow terraced streets to the stadium.

The carnival atmosphere was enhanced by the sizeable travelling support.

Northern Ireland supporters have had their say in our World Cup poll.
Northern Ireland supporters have had their say in our World Cup poll.
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
Northern Ireland fans are preparing to descend on Basel. 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:

A special affinity exists between the countries, the bonds of friendship forged in France when the sides met at the Euros.

The Green and White Army had drawn praise from Germany's Mats Hummels in the build-up.

And they produced another rousing atmosphere as kick-off neared.

In the stands a drummer beat down the final minutes to kick-off, followed by a stirring rendition of Sweet Caroline, the GAWA's call to arms.

By kick-off the ground was rocking. Already this was shaping up to be one of those special nights.

But within 80 seconds the Germans had spoiled the party.

A stunning strike from Sebastian Rudy, the Bayern Munich midfielder, briefly silenced the wall of noise.

Talk about a 'Rudy' awakening for Northern Ireland.

But soon the fans found their voices again as O'Neill's men set about the task of getting back into the game.

The German pressure continued. Michael McGovern - the hero of Paris when last these sides met - made a terrific save, another header hit the post.

With 21 minutes gone Sandro Wagner doubled the visitors' lead. "We're going to win 3-2," the home fans responded, somewhat optimistically.

Northern Ireland battled hard in the second half.

Joshua Kimmich added a third, and while Josh Magennis nearly brought the house down with a stoppage time consolation, it was that rarest of nights for the home fans - a defeat.

Yet all is far from lost, with Sunday's Oslo summit offering a chance of redemption.

The stadium music choice ranged from Bob Marley's classic Don't Worry to the Journey hit Don't Stop Believin'.

It seemed a timely reminder for everyone.

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