Belfast Telegraph

We were affected by our nerves, insists Stuart Dallas after Northern Ireland rescue late Hungary draw

By Stuart McKinley

Stuart Dallas has admitted that stage fright was a factor in Northern Ireland's failure to get the win against Hungary they needed to secure automatic qualification for Euro 2016.

The 10,000 strong crowd at Windsor Park on Monday night expected to see history being made, but Michael O'Neill's men suffered a case of the jitters with the finishing line in sight - Kyle Lafferty's injury-time goal saving his country from a 1-0 defeat.

They must now wait until next month to try again to clinch a place in a European Championship finals for the first time.

It is understandable that Dallas felt the weight of expectation. He was still playing at intermediate level for little Coagh United just over four years ago and made only his fifth international appearance against the Hungarians.

Having been through the experience once, he and his team-mates will be better equipped when they try to finish the job against Greece at Windsor Park on Thursday, October 8.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, but if you're not nervous then you shouldn't be playing," said Dallas.

"We knew it was a huge game, we knew that if we'd have got the win we would have been through.

"Luckily, Kyle has bailed us out at the end and it's a vital point for us."

Patience now has to be the watchword for O'Neill's troops as they wait four weeks for the next game.

For Dallas, who joined Leeds United from Brentford in the summer, that was the case on Monday night too, with Hungary's record of five successive clean sheets in Group F being enough of a message as to how hard goals would be to come by.

"We knew they were strong defensively, but we knew we would get our chances," said Dallas.

"I don't think they created too many chances, but you have to give them credit too.

"They came here and had a go, but obviously with the late goal it gives us that positivity and confidence to go ahead and get the job done."

Belfast Telegraph