Euro Football

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough taking positives into Euro play-off despite Oslo defeat

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Ian Baraclough says he will take plenty of positives from Wednesday’s Nations League defeat into next month’s crunch Euro play-off against Slovakia.

Northern Ireland came up short in Oslo with Stuart Dallas’ unfortunate own goal handing the hosts a 1-0 win.

It ended a busy week for Baraclough and his players, with three games in the space of seven days including trips to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Norway.

“I was really pleased with tonight’s performance,” Baraclough told Sky Sports.

“We made a lot of changes and there has been a lot of travelling done in the last seven or eight days.

“We played a different system which we worked on for a couple of days, and threw one or two kids in.”

Baraclough made 10 changes to the side that lost to Austria on Sunday, with Jonny Evans the only player to retain his place as he captained the side.

The Northern Ireland boss was also forced into an eleventh-hour change of goalkeepers after Bailey Peacock-Farrell had to withdraw with a hip complaint.

Motherwell keeper Trevor Carson stepped up to the plate and impressed on his return to international action.

The Northern Ireland team before kick-off

“Losing your goalkeeper just before kick-off doesn’t help, but I though we started the game really positively,” Baraclough added.

“We managed to create three or four chances, after they had an early chance from Haaland which produced a good save from Trevor.

“Our counter attacking was good and on another night we could have been a couple up.”

Reflecting on Peacock-Farrell’s injury, Baraclough added: “We didn’t want to take any risks with anyone, so that’s why we had a late keeper change.

“We have a big game in November so Bailey said he felt something in his hip and side of his thigh and we took no chances.

“Trevor, as professional as he is, was ready and I thought he acquitted himself very well.”

Norway’s winner arrived in the 68th minute, a corner coming off substitute Dallas’s shoulder and spinning into the top corner of the net.

“The goal is disappointing because it has come off Stuart Dallas,” Baraclough said.

Norway’s Mohamed Elyounoussi with Northern Ireland’s Daniel Ballard

“Dan Ballard threw himself at the ball trying to get something on it, and Stuart was marking his man and the ball has come off him.

“But we kept at it and tried to go a different shape with 4-3-3 and try and get a goal which the lads deserved.

“It wasn’t to be but there are a lot of positives.”

Next up for Northern Ireland is a massive play-off final against Slovakia at Windsor Park on November 12, with a place at next summer’s Euro finals up for grabs.

Norway’s Mathias Normann with Northern Ireland’s Jordan Thompson

“We go into November knowing we can play three or four different ways, and it gives me plenty to think about,” Baraclough said.

“I will be planning for the Slovakia game now. It has been full on this past week with three games during the window. We will discuss with the staff how it went and see where we can improve.

“We want to win every game possible and be competitive. These games have shown me a lot about the boys and their mentality.

“There was some positive stuff to take into our next games.”




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