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Marek Hamsik: Northern Ireland tried to hoof their way to Euro 2020 finals unlike ball-playing Slovakia

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Marek Hamsik wasn't impressed with what he perceived a long ball tactics from Northern Ireland.

Marek Hamsik wasn't impressed with what he perceived a long ball tactics from Northern Ireland.

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

Marek Hamsik wasn't impressed with what he perceived a long ball tactics from Northern Ireland.

Slovakian superstar Marek Hamsik has suggested that Northern Ireland are a long-ball team following his side's 2-1 victory in the Euro 2020 Play-Off Final at Windsor Park.

In Belfast, experienced playmaker Hamsik was delighted to captain his side to their third major tournament having previously skippered Slovakia in the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2016.

Currently with Chinese Super League club Dalian Pro, who are managed by Rafael Benitez, former Napoli favourite Hamsik had trained on his own for a month in his homeland to be prepared for what he described before kick-off as the country's "match of the year".

At Windsor Park, Hamsik, winning his 124th cap, wasn't as effective as many thought he would be, but ultimately all that mattered to him was the result.

Asked by Sunday Life Sport about Slovakia's victory and his part in it, the 33-year-old said: "It was a big victory for Slovakia. We always try our best for the country and we are very happy to have reached the Finals.

"In the Northern Ireland game they hit a lot of long balls, so the ball wasn't played very often in midfield.

"Whenever the ball was on our side we tried to play with the ball, but the middle of the pitch wasn't played in too much because of the long balls from Northern Ireland. That's why you didn't see much of the game played in the middle."

Slovakia manager Stefan Tarkovic was parachuted in for the Play-Off Final after Pavel Hapal was sacked despite leading the side to penalty shoot-out glory over the Republic of Ireland in the Semi.

Tarkovic said: "We went to Northern Ireland to win but we also went with respect for their team. We knew it would be a difficult game and we had to fight. It was a big frustration to lose a goal three minutes before the end but my mind was looking forward to extra-time and how we could win."

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