Players pay tribute to O'Neill

15 August 2013 05:32

Northern Ireland's match-winners dedicated the defeat of Russia to long-suffering manager Michael O'Neill.

The 1-0 victory over Fabio Capello's side at Windsor Park marked O'Neill's first success on the international stage - ending a 20-month wait that had previously yielded five draws and four defeats.

During those tough times the players spoke frequently and passionately of their support for O'Neill, who has worked diligently behind the scenes since replacing Nigel Worthington at the helm.

And he finally got his moment in the sun when Martin Paterson rose to nod home Niall McGinn's fine one-touch cross to establish a first-half lead Russia were unable to respond to.

McGinn, who was the goalscorer and star of the show in the previous high point of the O'Neill era - a 1-1 draw in Portugal - was delighted to finally give the former Shamrock Rovers coach three points to celebrate.

"That was for the boss," said the Aberdeen forward.

"We had massive belief going into the match, although few people gave us any hope.

"The boss has waited a long time for a victory so that was for him. It was an unbelievable night, played in an electric atmosphere. There is a great togetherness in the squad, demonstrated with our reaction afterwards.

"We got together in a huddle just to congratulate each other."

Huddersfield striker Paterson, who put in a wonderful shift leading the line and was rewarded with his first competitive international goal, echoed those sentiments.

Source: PA