MX23RW : Friday, November 22 21:31:29| >> :600:3311576:3311576:
Oct 14, 2019 at 6pm UK
Attendance: 9,139
Czech Republic
Northern Ireland
Darida (67'), Kral (68')
FT(HT: 0-3)
McNair (9', 40'), Evans (23')

Michael O'Neill admits thinking about Euro 2020 playoffs

Michael O'Neill admits thinking about playoffs
© Reuters
A brace from Paddy McNair and a Jonny Evans goal secured Northern Ireland an impressive away win.

Michael O'Neill has told his Northern Ireland side their 3-2 friendly win over the Czech Republic shows they can reach Euro 2020 via the play-offs.

O'Neill attached "no significance whatsoever" to the fact Monday's success was Northern Ireland's first friendly win on the road since they beat Finland in 2006.

But he felt the performance in Prague could prove much more important as they look to rescue their hopes of reaching Euro 2020.

Thursday's late 3-1 defeat to Holland in Rotterdam means Northern Ireland need to beat the Dutch in Belfast and Germany in Frankfurt next month to have any hope of escaping Group C, but they look increasingly likely to find their way into the play-offs.

"We said to the players, if we are in a play-off situation we will have to come somewhere like this," he said.

"I think the Czech Republic will qualify automatically and I hope they do but we will have to come to a similar opponent, possibly away from home, and win the game.

"And if that is the case we will have to defend for our lives for the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game which we had to do here."

Paddy McNair scored twice for Northern Ireland
Paddy McNair scored twice for Northern Ireland (Petr David Josek/AP)

Northern Ireland were cruising at half-time after Paddy McNair's brace either side of a Jonny Evans goal had them 3-0 up, but it turned into a rearguard action after two goals in two minutes from Vladimir Darida and Alex Kral left them hanging on for the final 20 minutes.

O'Neill had switched from his usual 4-3-3 formation to a 3-5-2 for the match, bringing Tom Flanagan into defence alongside Evans and Craig Cathcart at the back, and the Sunderland man got a full examination as the Czechs poured forward in the second half.

"I think we have to take a look (at other options)," O'Neill said. "We have very little time to work with the players and this was a chance to look at three at the back, so we brought Tom into the team.

"It was a strong but relatively inexperienced side with Liam (Boyce) and Gavin (Whyte) up front, Conor McLaughlin coming back in and Jordan Thompson. I think we fielded four players who only have three or four caps each.

"We put experience around them of course, but the most important thing was that those players got accustomed to playing international football at this level, against top players."

The Czech Republic came into the game on the back of a surprise win over England on Friday, the Three Lions' first qualifying defeat in a decade, but the hosts could not build on that as coach Jaroslav Silhavy made 10 changes to his side – with Kral the only survivor.

After Northern Ireland threatened to blow away his side in the opening 45 minutes, Silhavy made four substitutions at half-time to restore a number of senior players, and it made an immediate impact.

However, they could not end an 18-year wait for a win over Northern Ireland, who won the last meeting between the teams in 2017 2-0 in Belfast following three 0-0 draws in recent fixtures.

"It was a good result against a very good team," O'Neill added. "We played them recently for Russia 2018 qualifying, we drew here 0-0 and won in Belfast, but I think this Czech team is stronger than that team.

"They've developed since then so this is a very positive result."

body check tags ::

Click here for more stories about Michael O'Neill

Click here for more stories about Northern Ireland

Share this article now:
Instagram - Follow Sports Mole
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill on October 10, 2019
Read Next:
Michael O'Neill hails "excellent" Northern Ireland after Czech Republic win

La Liga
Ligue 1
Belgian Pro League
Turkish Super Lig
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Danish Superliga
Segunda Division
Serie B
Ligue 2
Eerste Divisie
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Welsh Premier League
NIFL Premiership
Premier League 2 - Div 1
Premier League 2 - Div 2
Australian A-League
Chinese Super League
European Champions Cup
European Challenge Cup
2Leicester CityLeicester128222982126
4Manchester CityMan City1281335132225
5Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd12453139417
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd124441612416
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves123721615116
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124351517-215
12Crystal Palace124351016-615
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle124351118-715
14Tottenham HotspurSpurs123541817114
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham123451420-613
17Aston Villa123271720-311
20Norwich CityNorwich122191128-177

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!