Sunday 20 January 2019

O'Neill: Hungary win by best as manager of North

Michael O'Neill rates Sunday's victory in Hungary as his best result in charge of Northern Ireland but insists it will only matter if they follow up by beating the Faroe Islands next month.

O'Neill has previously overseen a home win against Fabio Capello's Russia and a 1-1 draw with Portugal in Porto but the 2-1 success in Budapest immediately overtook both as his favourite result since taking over from Nigel Worthington.

That is down to timing more than anything, with close-range finishes from Niall McGinn and Kyle Lafferty giving Northern Ireland the best possible start to Euro 2016 qualifying.

But despite the good feeling created by a first away in over four years, O'Neill is already looking to the next test - a visit from Group F's relative minnows.

"This result feels bigger than Russia or Portugal because it means we've started the campaign on the front foot with three points away from home," said the former Shamrock Rovers amanger. "I felt we missed the opportunity to get some momentum going early in the last campaign but we haven't missed it this time and that means we need to push on from here.

"The truth is these three points are only as valuable as what we make of them. We have a home game against the Faroes now which sets us up to be in a good position after a couple of games but we have to make sure we do that."

Lafferty, who did more than anyone to drag his side over the line, echoed those sentiments.

The 26-year-old Norwich striker made the piercing run and cross that teed up McGinn for the equaliser 10 minutes from time and then showed admirable endeavour to hook the winner over the line in a scramble.

He said: "These are the kind of games, when we're underdogs, that we pick up points, but it's the next game against the Faroe Islands those are the games where we've struggled."

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