Belfast Telegraph

The end of Northern Ireland's Euro hopes

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland's slim European Championship qualifying dream ended in despair last night with a depressing 2-1 defeat at home to Estonia at Windsor Park, killing any hope that manager Nigel Worthington has of keeping his job.

When the final whistle blew angry Northern Ireland fans chanted "We want Nigel out".

They will get their wish after this disappointing and frustrating campaign comes to an close following Tuesday's night game in Italy.

There is no way the IFA will offer Worthington a new deal after this latest failure which sees Northern Ireland languishing in fifth place in Group C with just nine points from nine games - and four of them came against the minnows of the Faroe Islands, who are now the only team below us.

The home side actually took the lead through the new captain Steve Davis in the first half, and for a while there was some hope amongst the Northern Ireland faithful.

But after the break Estonia outclassed and outfought their opponents, just as they did when winning 4-1 in Tallinn last month, scoring twice through Konstantin Vassiljev.

Northern Ireland's players protested about Estonia's late winner, which moved them into second place in the group, but the referee was right to ignore his linesman's flag for offside.

It was a dismal finish to a dismal campaign, and another result that says the time has come for a change of manager.

Asked about his future, Worthington said: "That's the million dollar question.

"It's up to others to decide. I share everyone's disappointment and frustration at what has happened during this campaign and I know there are no excuses or hiding places."

Belfast Telegraph


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