The Green and White Army travelled to Oslo for Sunday's match against Norway potentially needing a point to keep their hopes of reaching next summer's tournament alive.
Dropped points for Scotland in their 2-2 draw with Slovenia means that Northern Ireland will now definitely be among the eight best group runners-up, however, before even kicking a ball in their clash with Norway.
Speaking ahead of that match, O'Neill told Sky Sports News: "We tried to focus on the game, but with the early kickoff it's difficult to stop players from getting information. I feel sorry for Scotland.
"It has taken pressure off in this game, but we have to play properly. If I didn't have to get the team in 75 minutes before kickoff, I may have rested players. They have been good, they understand the situation and we will manage the game if we have to withdraw players for the playoffs."