Manager Ian Baraclough knows Northern Ireland need to improve their game after late goals secured victory over Luxembourg
Northern Ireland coach Ian Baraclough admitted his side’s 3-1 win in Luxembourg wasn’t a perfect performance, but it’s still a result that gives the team something what to rely on.
Goals from Steven Davis and Gavin Whyte secured a 3-1 win but the visitors worked for long periods after Marvin Martins’ 58th-minute header canceled out Josh Magennis’ impressive early strike.
Substitutes Davis and Whyte scored in the 83rd and 85th minutes to snatch victory, but for much of the second half Luxembourg had looked the likeliest winners.
In his first game since signing a new two-year contract last year, Baraclough will be delighted that his side are now three games unbeaten, but he knows the score is not the whole story.
“It was by no means a perfect performance, but three away goals was probably just the reward for the efforts and efforts of the guys,” he said.
“It’s nice to see Josh on the scoresheet, it’s three out of three for him for club and country and some really good finishes.
“We can be better in possession and I know we can play better but we were solid out of possession and solid defensively, although frustrated to concede a free kick.
“Three away goals is good and I thought George (Saville) had scored, not Davo, but he’s someone who sniffed a chance, he reads the game and the preparation of the goal so well was good.”
Goalkeeper Luke Southwood, coming on as a half-time substitute on his Northern Ireland debut, had to make a string of saves before Davis and Whyte secured victory.
“It’s about winning the game, not just giving the players chances,” added Baraclough. “You have to learn how to win the game when you’re not playing well.
“Luxembourg’s energy and physique were good so we had to try to match that,” added Baraclough. “I thought we were solid away from home and the substitutes came and gave us something extra.”
Northern Ireland are back in action in Belfast on Tuesday night as they continue their Nations League preparations by hosting Hungary in a friendly.
“It’s going to be a much tougher challenge,” Baraclough said. “We will have to step it up.”