Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2020: ‘We’ll go into play-offs with a lot of confidence’, says Steven Davis

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who has managed his last home game at Windsor Park, pictured with team captain Steven Davis after the game finished 0-0. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who has managed his last home game at Windsor Park, pictured with team captain Steven Davis after the game finished 0-0. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who has managed his last home game at Windsor Park, pictured with team captain Steven Davis after the game finished 0-0. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses his penalty after Netherlands' Joel Veltman uses his arm to control the ball during Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses his penalty after Netherlands' Joel Veltman uses his arm to control the ball during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes a penalty which he fails to score as Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk looks on. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Pacemaker Belfast 16-11-19 Northern Ireland v Netherlands - Euro 2020 Qualifier Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses a penalty during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C. Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes a penalty which he fails to score at NetherlandsÕ captain Virgil van Dijk looks on. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Pacemaker - Belfast - -16/11/2019. Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast Netherland's Virgil van Dijk contests the ref penalty decision In tonight"s game At Windsor Park Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press
Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen saves a shot the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 16, 2019. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wireduring the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 16, 2019. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Pacemaker Belfast 16-11-19 Northern Ireland v Netherlands - Euro 2020 Qualifier Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Bailey Peacock-Farrell during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Corry Evans with Netherlands' Davy Propper during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
PressEye-Northern Ireland- 16th November 2019-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland Bailey Peacock-Farrell against Netherlands during Saturday's EURO 2020 Qualifier at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans with Netherlands' Jasper Cillessen during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis during Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier against the Netherlands at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Pacemaker - Belfast - -16/11/2019. Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast Northern Ireland Josh Magennis shot just past the post In tonight"s game At Windsor Park Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland with Netherlands during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland manager Micheal O'Neill with Chris Brunt before Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier against Netherlands at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C. Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C. Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Pacemaker - Belfast - -16/11/2019. Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast Dutch fan In tonight"s game At Windsor Park Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

By Gareth McCullough

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.  

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Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes a penalty which he fails to score as Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk looks on. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“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.”

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