Belfast Telegraph

I politely told him to...go away, says Davis as he reflects on denying hat-trick hunter Magennis a penalty

By Gareth Hanna

Steve Davis is all for team spirit - but he was never going to deviate from the plan to let Josh Magennis bag his hat-trick.

Magennis had already netted twice when the referee pointed to the spot and awarded Northern Ireland a 78th minute penalty kick.

But rather than break with the discussed POA, captain Davis himself strode over, picked up the ball and stroked it into the bottom corner.

"(Josh) was desperate for the penalty but I had to take it," laughed the skipper during his post-match interview on Sky Sports.

"Of course he (asked to take it) but I politely told him to... go away.

"He was unlucky with a couple of chances but kept plugging away. He was a nuisance, a real threat for us all night and got his reward with the two goals."

Magennis, meanwhile, smiled and supported his skipper's decision during his own interview.

"Of course I asked for the penalty but he's the captain and the leader of the team," the striker told Sky Sports' Paul Gilmour. "What he says goes when Michael (O'Neill)'s not around. There are no egos or agendas. It would have been nice to get my first senior hat-trick but he's the man so I can't be arguing.

"I'm delighted for him to get his goal because he deserves it. He's the catalyst for this team."

The goal was Davis' 10th for his country, coming on his 96th senior appearance.

"I probably should have scored more but it was nice to get another one tonight and it sends us into the game against Czech Republic nicely," he said.

"It's a massive game for us. It's all to play for. I'm sure Windsor will be bouncing. It will be an electric atmosphere and we want to put on a good performance again."

A point at Windsor Park on Monday night will be enough to secure second spot and all-but guarantee a play-off place for Northern Ireland.

It had seemed, however, that NI might be frustrated by San Marino, as it took 70 minutes, and 14 shots off target, for Michael O'Neill's side to find the net.

"Patience was key," said Davis. "The first half we created a number of chances but couldn't find the breakthrough. It was important to keep doing the right things and keep testing them at the back. I thought we did that and it was a professional performance.

"We didn't want to become frustrated or start going long too early. We wanted to get an extra pass in whenever we could but the pitch was difficult so that played a factor and the heat as well.

"They defended for their lives, threw their bodies on the line but we were patient, made the breakthrough and it was comfortable in the end."

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