Michael O'Neill taking positives from Germany defeat

Joachim Low has spoken critically of the standard of the Bundesliga

Joachim Low has spoken critically of the standard of the Bundesliga

World champions Germany proved too strong for Northern Ireland as they recorded a 3-1 win over Northern Ireland in Belfast.

In Belfast the Dutch referee Danny Makkelie, who was also in charge when Northern Ireland last lost a competitive home game which was four years ago, kept his cards in his pockets which means O'Neill has a full squad to choose from on Sunday.

"It's so important because we could miss some of the big hitters and with us being so resilient away from home and strong at Windsor with the fantastic fans behind us we should have a big chance - if we make to the play-offs".

They will be assured of a two-legged November tie prior to meeting Norway on Sunday if both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece fail to win 24 hours earlier.

"There is no guarantee that 13 points (in the second place table) will be enough (for a playoff)".

'There is a real importance to the result in Norway because obviously we want to go there and try and get three points, and we certainly want to make sure we're not beaten. We knew if we were going to get anything out of the game we would have to put everything into it and every player is absolutely knackered. "We are on a tightrope with bookings".

Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner scored in the first half and Joshua Kimmich wrapped it up late as Germany made it nine wins from nine games to be certain of finishing top in Europe Group C. If the result goes against us, I don't think we would go into the playoff with any less confidence.

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His fourth goal in this qualifying campaign, and the goal will help further stake his claim to be Germany's staring striker in Russian Federation next year. Our confidence comes from the campaign that we have had.

However, the irrepressible Wagner would not be denied a third time, the 29-year-old Hoffenheim striker's sublime curling left-footed strike in the 20th minute flashing past McGovern for his fourth goal of the campaign.

Northern Ireland were much improved in the second half, and saw a lot more of the ball in advanced areas but just didn't have that final ball to trouble the German defence.

"It never gave us a chance to settle into the game".

You fear the worst at 2-0 down but 3-0 would have been harsh.

Left-back Chris Brunt could not cope with Kimmich's raiding runs alone and only got protection when Stuart Dallas was brought on for the second half.

"I am satisfied", Low said.

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