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Wednesday 19 December 2018

O'Neill 'sickened' by fourth defeat

GUTTED: Kyle Lafferty. Pic: Reuters
GUTTED: Kyle Lafferty. Pic: Reuters

Michael O'Neill wants to forget the Nations League after Northern Ireland lost to a "sickening" stoppage-time winner by Austria.

Valentino Lazaro struck with virtually the last kick at Windsor Park as Austria won 2-1 to make it four defeats out of four for Northern Ireland.

O'Neill is now focussing on next year's Euro 2020 qualifiers.

"There's a lot more positives than negatives but we lost the game," O'Neill said. "Basically we've got to forget the Nations League was ever invented and we're ready to go and play in March."

Xaver Schlager put Austria ahead four minutes into the second half, nipping in front of George Saville to rifle a low shot across goal.

Corry Evans' first international goal in eight years just before the hour looked like giving Northern Ireland their first point in the competition, but Austria finished stronger after Marko Arnautovic came on as a substitute with 20 minutes to play.

"He's a top player," O'Neill said of the West Ham man. "He could play in any of the top teams in Europe.

"When you've got a player of that calibre and you drop him into the team he'll give you a special spark and he did that."

Austria's winning goal came from a Northern Ireland mistake. Stuart Dallas was robbed by David Alaba, who played in Arnautovic who set up Lazaro.

"Stuart is maybe thinking he should have put the ball out of play and then the referee would blow the final whistle at that time," O'Neill said.

"But again we're looking at that wee bit of quality, it's an Alaba-Arnautovic combination and the lad Lazaro, it's a fantastic finish that separates the teams.

''It's very sickening to lose a game that way, I don't think we deserved to lose again."

 

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