MX23RW : Sunday, August 1 11:44:26| >> :600:156892:156892:
Mar 28, 2021 at 5.05pm UK at Windsor Park
N. IrelandNorthern Ireland
McGinn (88')
Saville (43')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Reyna (30'), Pulisic (59' pen.)

Kyle Lafferty "proud" of Northern Ireland despite United States defeat

Kyle Lafferty
© Reuters
Northern Ireland made 10 changes from last week's World Cup qualifying defeat to Italy and were unlucky to come out on the losing side.

Kyle Lafferty believes Northern Ireland showed the future is bright even in defeat to the United States on Sunday.

Ian Baraclough took a number of players out of the firing line ahead of Wednesday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, instead handing vital experience to the likes of Conor Hazard, Dan Ballard, Ciaron Brown and Shayne Lavery.

A youthful side featuring 10 changes from last week's World Cup qualifying defeat to Italy was unlucky to come out on the losing end as the United States scored through Gio Reyna's deflected strike and a disputed Christian Pulisic penalty.

Niall McGinn scored a superb late consolation, but the main takeaway was the way in which Northern Ireland's next generation coped with an American side packed with players plying their trade in Europe's top leagues.

The 33-year-old Lafferty lent the hosts some experience as he was named captain on the occasion of his 81st cap, and was impressed by those around him even as their winless run continued.

"I'm proud," the Kilmarnock striker said. "We had a young team out, with some earning the first cap, or second and quite a few under 10 caps.

"There were only four or five players with 30 or 40 caps but I thought we caused them problems.

"We were right on them in the first half and we put pressure on the ball early doors and created chances.

"Take nothing away from the (United States). They are a young, athletic team but in the first half we outran them and won every single battle all over the pitch so I'm happy with the performance."

Lafferty was partnered in attack by Linfield's Shayne Lavery, and echoed his international manager Ian Baraclough when he said he believed the 22-year-old former Everton trainee will soon be plying his trade back across the Irish Sea.

"He's one of those players who is always in players' faces and he will get a chance," Lafferty said.

Lafferty was full of praise for striker Shayne Lavery
Lafferty was full of praise for striker Shayne Lavery (Liam McBurney/PA)

"He's done well for Linfield this season, and even last season. I'm sure he'll get a move across the water sooner rather than later."

There was also a second-half debut for Accrington striker Dion Charles, who twice tested Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen as he looked unfazed by the step up to international football.

Lafferty, without an international goal since November 2016, had early chances in the match but dragged the best of them wide after being played in by George Saville.

Northern Ireland's second-highest goalscorer is confident he can get on the scoresheet again soon having hit the ground running since his February move back to Scotland, but admitted he has dropped down the pecking order for now.

Lafferty is confident he can end his international drought dating back to November 2016
Lafferty is confident he can end his international drought dating back to November 2016 (Liam McBurney/PA)

"Goals will get you games and as a striker that is what you're judged on," he said.

"Josh (Magennis) has stepped up to the plate many times now and I think he deserves that chance.

"If I'm putting in performances every week for my club and coming here and getting goals then I'll knock on the manager's door but right now Josh is scoring goals for his club and country and deserves that starting role.

"Until I start hitting the back of the net, I will have to settle for coming off the bench."

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Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough pictured on September 7, 2020
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Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

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