MX23RW : Friday, August 6 03:44:09| >> :600:560075:560075:
Mar 24, 2019 at 7.45pm UK at Windsor Park
Attendance: 18,188
N. IrelandNorthern Ireland
Evans (30'), Magennis (87')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Stasevich (33')

Michael O'Neill looking to "build" on Estonia win

Michael O'Neill looking to
© Reuters
Thursday's win was Northern Ireland's first competitive victory since they beat the Czech Republic in September 2017.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill believes their Euro 2020 qualifier win over Estonia was a coming-of-age moment for his side's younger players before they look to repeat the trick against Belarus on Sunday.

Thursday night's 2-0 win was Northern Ireland's first competitive victory since they beat the Czech Republic in September 2017, before the likes of Jordan Jones, Jamal Lewis and Bailey Peacock-Farrell were in the squad.

"I think for any of the younger players, those that have come in since the World Cup campaign, they haven't played in qualifiers," O'Neill said.

"The Nations League was in its infancy in terms of the significance of those games, they didn't have the same intensity of a Euro or World Cup qualifying game.

"Certainly for Jordan, Jamal and Bailey, playing that game was a big thing to come through and to have won it.

"I think all these things help you as an international player. Everyone was in good form and the key thing is to build on that."

Jones impressed on the left wing as Northern Ireland looked to both wingers to create openings on Thursday, with his cross leading to Niall McGinn's 56th-minute opener.

Northern Ireland v Estonia – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group C – Windsor Park
Jordan Jones (right) impressed against Estonia on Thursday night (Niall Carson/PA)

The 24-year-old, who was earning his fifth cap, came into the international break having been left out of Kilmarnock's recent match against Rangers – a club he will join in the summer.

"Jordan was very positive," O'Neill added. "He'll have to adapt his game a bit from what he does with his club, but he's moving to a big club in the summer and it's maybe been a difficult situation to deal with.

"At the moment I think he's enjoyed being away and that showed in his performance on Thursday night."

O'Neill now has decisions to make on whether or not to freshen up his side. While keen to build on the momentum of Thursday's win, he is aware that the majority of his players are not getting regular minutes at club level.

"We're asking them to play Thursday-Sunday and we do need another high level of performance, intensity and energy, particularly in that early part of the game," he said.

Corry Evans and Gavin Whyte remain unavailable with hamstring and thigh problems respectively, but Gareth McAuley, who also sat out on Thursday, is fit again after hamstring troubles of his own.

Lining up against Belarus can bring some happy memories for Northern Ireland, given the last meeting between the two came on the eve of Euro 2016 and resulted in a 3-0 win for O'Neill's side.

The visitors suffered a 4-0 defeat in Holland on Thursday night, but O'Neill still believes Sunday's match is likely to be more difficult than the Estonia game for his side.

"I think they'll possibly pose a greater threat, maybe counter-attacking wise and attacking wise, than Estonia did," he said.

"We have to keep the performance level at the same level if not higher to get the result we hope for."

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Corry Evans scores for Northern Ireland on November 18, 2018
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States29352791
Olympics flagRussian Olympic Committee16222058
Great BritainGreat Britain16181852
Today's Olympic highlights header

Friday's key events

· Great Britain's women aim to secure their place on the podium as they face India in the bronze medal match (2.30am)
· Netherlands - silver medallists five years ago - and Argentina battle for the gold medal in the women's final (11am)

· The women's gold medal will be decided as Australia and USA go head to head (3.30am)

· Lauren Price will be looking to add to Team GB's success in the ring when she takes on Nouchka Fontijn of Netherlands in the women's middleweight semi-final (6am)

· Tom Daley already has one Olympic gold to his name in Tokyo, and he begins his bid for second in the men's 10m platform. Teammate Noah Williams is also involved in the preliminary round (7am)

· Jason Kenny's reign as sprint king may be over, but Jack Carlin looked strong in his bid to succeed his compatriot. He takes on Harrie Lavreysen in his sprint semi-final (8.10am), with the final taking place later in the day (10.35am)
· The women's madison makes its Olympic debut at the velodrome as Team GB duo Katie Archibald and Laura Kenny look to add another medal to their collections (9.15am)

· Hosts Japan will look to get themselves on the podium as they face Mexico in the men's bronze medal match (10am)
· The women's champions will be crowned as both Sweden and Canada aim to win Olympic gold for the very first time (1pm)

· The men's 5000m final includes Great Britain's Andrew Butchart, but most eyes will be on Ugandan world record holder Joshua Cheptegei (1pm)
· Team GB's Jodie Williams will hope to get on the podium in the women's 400m final, but defending champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo is favourite for gold while Stephenie Ann McPherson should challenge and Allyson Felix is bidding to become the most decorated female track and field athlete of all time (1.35pm)
· Netherlands' Sifan Hassan takes on leg two of her ambitious attempt at a Tokyo treble in a women's 1500m final which also includes Great Britain's Laura Muir and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya (1.50pm)
· A star-studded women's 4x100m relay final will see a Team GB quartet including Dina Asher-Smith look to upset defending champions USA and favourites Jamaica, who boast Elaine Thompson-Herah as she goes for her third gold of the Games (2.30pm)
· Great Britain and Jamaica will also be going for gold in the men's 4x100m relay final, and their medal hopes have been boosted by USA's failure to qualify (2.50pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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