Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis cut a slightly dejected figure after Northern Ireland’s 0-0 draw at home to the Netherlands, on a night that should have been all smiles for the Rangers midfielder.
Davis won his 116th cap for his country to bring him just three behind record holder Pat Jennings, but he blazed his penalty over the bar just after the half hour as Michael O’Neill’s men spurned a glorious opportunity to take a huge win that would have kept their outside chances of automatic qualification for Euro 2020 alive.
“There’s an element of disappointment, because for large parts of the game, we restricted them and defensively we felt quite solid", said the 34-year-old.
We had a great opportunity to go in front with the penalty, but unfortunately I've missed that. Steven Davis
“It’s probably been the story against the bigger nations, tonight and against Germany, that when the chances came along, we haven’t taken them. You know you’ve got to be clinical with those chances to give yourself a foothold in the game.
“We put a lot into the first half, so in the second half we naturally started to drop a little bit deeper and whenever it gets to the last 15 minutes, you want to push on and take it to that final game in the campaign, but they’re a good side and you’ve got to appreciate the quality they have as well.
“Because we’re so good defensively and we’re so organised, I felt that if we had got ourselves in front, we might have gone on and won the game. That was the plan coming into it,” admitted Davis.
“We don’t know if this might be Michael’s last game here at Windsor and I would have obviously loved to have scored the goal that got us that big scalp. But thankfully, we’ve got a play-off to look forward to in March and hopefully the draw will be kind to us in terms of that.
“It was always going to be in difficult in this group and if we had managed to take it to the last game in this group, then that would have been an achievement in itself. But against the bigger nations, I think we are moving in the right direction in terms of the overall performance. It’s going to be another big test against Germany and it’s on we’ll pick ourselves up for and go again.
“We’ll go into play-offs with a lot of confidence. The younger players in the squad are gaining valuable experiences all the time at this level as well.
“The focus has been good this week even after everything that has gone on. It’s been pretty hectic 10 days for Michael more so than anyone else and he addressed it straight away when everyone got together.
“We’re all hopeful that he will still be in charge for the play-offs and then we can look forward to it and hopefully end up back at another major tournament.”