Belfast Telegraph

I shunned a shot at personal glory for good of team: Jonny Evans


By Paul Ferguson in Baku

Unselfish Jonny Evans has admitted he decided to put the interests of the Northern Ireland team ahead of any personal achievement in the build up to Stuart Dallas' match-winning goal on Saturday in Baku.

The West Brom defender was on the edge of the box when he received the ball after an Azerbaijan defender miscued his clearance. Evans was in a great position to shoot and maybe score his first goal for his country since Poland in 2009.

But he knew if played the square pass to Dallas it may confuse the Azerbaijan defence allowing space for the Leeds United winger to fire home the winner.

The former Manchester United defender stated: "It was on my left foot and I was in a good position. "Josh has managed to get it back inside the box with a header and you're hoping the guy will miscue his clearance and he did.

"It came to me and my first thought was to get a good touch out of my feet to have the opportunity to shoot.

"Then at the last minute, you're thinking it's difficult because it's still on my weaker side and I'm thinking I maybe just have to blast the ball but I could hear Stuarty screaming my name at the top of his voice and I thought if I could cut the ball back, maybe most of their Azerbaijan defence will have gone in to try to block the shot. Knowing what it is like as a defender, it's not nice when the ball is rolled across when you're expecting a shot and Stuarty did well to let it role across his body and he hit the shot well."

Northern Ireland, following the victory in Baku, have strengthened their grip on second place in Group C - four points clear of the Czech Republic, who could only draw with Norway on Saturday, in third spot. Michael O'Neill's men could secure second place in September if results go their way, but Evans is adamant that doesn't mean the task will be easy.

He adds: "Our experience of the last campaign shows how quickly things can change.

"If you look back at the Hungary game, we scored in the last minute and it was a bit similar in Baku. That can give us confidence and propelled us forward.

"But it's definitely not over."

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