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Michael O'Neill delighted after Northern Ireland's victory over Russia in Belfast

Updated: Thursday, 15 Aug 2013 17:14 | Comments

Michael O'Neill's side claimed a hugely credible 1-0 victory over Russia last night
Michael O'Neill's side claimed a hugely credible 1-0 victory over Russia last night

At the tenth time of asking, Michael O'Neill last night secured his first win as Northern Ireland manager - and a notable one at that as his side beat Russia in a World Cup qualifier.

A Martin Patterson goal just before half-time was enough for a fully-deserved victory at Windsor Park on Wednesday.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, the former Shamrock Rovers boss was quick to salute his troops.

"It was nice to get the win and the players got their reward for what was a fantastic performance," he said.

"Even though the likes of David Healy and Kyle Lafferty were ruled out, we had McAuley, Davis and Hughes, players with experience at international level, to step up."

Of the younger brigade Daniel Lafferty and Shane Ferguson were excellent and it's those players that will shape the Northern Ireland team in the future and the manager was at pains to point out that the victory was no fluke.

"We knew we could create chances and our aim was to start the game on the front foot. We did that and the goal we scored was a fantastic effort. They did come at us, but we absorbed the pressure and our counter attacking play was excellent," he insisted.

"There is pace in the team and we have players that are technically gifted. We limited the Russians to just a few opportunities."

Wednesday's victory follows on from a creditable draw for Northern Ireland away to Portugal last October. Yet costly draws at home have scuppered any chances of making real progress in Group F. Not surprisingly, the manager has been left frustrated.

"Our results in the Group have been poor, but our work rate and approach could not be faulted. We dominated against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, but ended up drawing both games. The amount of chances we missed were criminal and we were punished late on.

"My biggest disappointment is that we should have 10 points on the board at the moment."

Yet O'Neill is upbeat with regard to the future.

"The aim is to put the right structures and building blocks in place for the years ahead. In my time involved as manager, the support at Windsor Park has been fantastic," he added.

"It’s a positive place for our players to play. The fans have been patient with the team throughout the campaign, but yet they have created an atmosphere that inspired the team. That can only help the squad."

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