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Northern Ireland believe we can upset the odds to make finals again: Josh Magennis


Party time: Josh Magennis is hailed by Steven Davis

Party time: Josh Magennis is hailed by Steven Davis

So close: Goalkeeper Andrei Klimovic denies Kyle Lafferty

So close: Goalkeeper Andrei Klimovic denies Kyle Lafferty


Party time: Josh Magennis is hailed by Steven Davis

Match winner Josh Magennis declared that the dramatic 2-1 victory over Belarus at Windsor Park has instilled belief that Northern Ireland can once again qualify for the Euro finals.

Substitute Magennis netted an 87th minute winner to take Michael O'Neill's team to the top of the Group C table ahead of Germany and the Netherlands.

It looked as though the game would end in a draw after Jonny Evans and Igor Stasevich, via a Stuart Dallas deflection, had swapped first half goals until the Bolton striker came up trumps.

Now the plan will be to follow up home success against Estonia and Belarus with more on the road when Northern Ireland play another double header versus the same opposition in June.

The Magennis strike from an inviting Paddy McNair cross was vital with the Northern Ireland players and manager knowing the first four fixtures in their Euro 2020 qualifying group are must-win affairs.

Magennis said: "It was brilliant to score so late on and Windsor erupted as usual.

"I was proud to get the winner. With the magnitude of the game at 1-1 it was frustrating. They were sitting in deep and making it hard for us to create chances.

"Thankfully Paddy (McNair) laid it on a plate for me and I thought - don't miss and thank God it managed to go in past their goalkeeper.

"It's a cliche and cheesy but the main thing was the three points and we want 12 points out of the first four games and then we can head towards September, October and November when we play Germany and Holland.

"We have started off well and now we have to look forward to June."

Asked about being top of the group, Magennis said: "It's massive and we want to stay there and we truly believe we can do it.

"We have done it before in Euro 2016 and it is all about confidence. I think what Michael's trying to do, the ethos he is trying to progress in the team and what we are trying to achieve and do before the games is coming to fruition.

"We are trying to develop and we are no longer a one dimensional team as people have said before.

"We are trying to break teams down and at times it is not pretty but we have come off the pitch knowing we have won."

Quizzed on that belief in qualifying from a group containing Holland and Germany, Magennis added: "It's massive. The confidence in the group is massive and you have boys coming in such as Jordan Jones, Gavin Whyte and you have boys coming in and there is real depth in the squad.

"We got Davo (Steven Davis), Big G (Gareth McAuley), Jonny (Evans) and Craig (Cathcart) so we have got the experience and young Jamal (Lewis) is a force to be reckoned with.

"It is brilliant and it is exciting times at the minute but we cannot get carried away and we are taking it one game at a time.

"Can we enjoy it? One hundred percent but there is no point me standing here if I didn't think we could go through. I might as well not show up.

"It is going to be tough and maybe tougher than we expected and maybe we will have to dig deep. I also say 'why not us?'

"The boys know each other inside out and we just have to play to the best of our ability."

Belfast Telegraph