Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016: 'It is strange to say but it felt as if Northern Ireland lacked belief'

By Adrian Rutherford

Fans who made the journey to Nice spoke of their frustration after Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 campaign got off to a losing start.

Around 10,000 supporters travelled over for the opening match against Poland.

But they were disappointed as a second half goal from Arkadiusz Milik left the Green and White Army feeling flat. Fan Chris Gilmore said: "I thought we defended pretty well, but we didn't offer that much going forward.

"We worked hard and did the basics well, but we showed little creativity.

"We didn't really have a shot on target all game.

"It seemed to me that we were a little overawed by the occasion."

Andy Walker, who flew to France from Belfast on Saturday, is hoping for a more attacking performance in the next game against Ukraine.

"Poland were always going to be tough opponents but I thought we'd give them a bit more of a game," he said.

"I really believed coming into today that we had a chance of getting something.

"But we never really showed any attacking intent or threat.

"I still believe we can progress but we need to beat Ukraine on Thursday."

The disappointment was shared by NI boss Michael O'Neill and his players. The coach said: "I don't think we ever envisaged coming into this game thinking we'd be disgraced but there's a bit of disappointment in the dressing room that we didn't do more with the ball.

"Individually maybe the players felt they could have done better; collectively we couldn't have worked much harder.

"When we did have set pieces our delivery probably wasn't as good as we hoped it would be."

Captain Steven Davis said he was disappointed and frustrated.

"It is strange to say but we lacked belief today. It felt like that at times," he said.

"Obviously there are positives to take with our work-rate and desire as always, and I think we did defend well for the majority of the game but we know we can do a lot better in terms of with the ball."

Belfast Telegraph