14/08/2013 Belfast Russia 1-0 Martin Paterson 11,805
Roy Carroll, Daniel Lafferty, Gareth McAuley, Craig Cathcart, Aaron Hughes, Shane Ferguson, Steven Davis, Oliver Norwood, Niall McGinn (Corry Evans), Jamie Ward, Martin Paterson (Will Grigg)
Northern Ireland hadn’t won a game since August 2011 (vs Faroe Islands) and new manager Michael O’Neill was still without a win in 9 games. This game was rescheduled from a snowed off March fixture. Russia were ranked 16th going into this game with Northern Ireland a massive 109th. Northern Ireland dominated the game from start to finish and should have won by more but a Martin Paterson headed goal gave Northern Ireland a deserved victory. The win was only Northern’s third in their last 33 matches.
Michael O’Neill (Northern Ireland Manager) –
“It is a great result for the team and for me personally. When you take on a job you want to get that win straight away, but I have had to wait. Tonight I can enjoy it.”
“There were young players in the team, lads who only had a handful of caps between them and they really came of age tonight. It was disappointing to lose Jonny Evans [to injury] just before the game but it could not be helped and it gave Craig Cathcart the chance to come in. He and Gareth McAuley were excellent. Sometimes players have to wait for their opportunity at international level. Jamie Ward, for example, has been injured a lot for me and tonight he came in and was absolutely outstanding. Shane Ferguson produced 90 minutes of the really highest quality, Daniel Lafferty was outstanding. They’re all young players who have only came into the team in the last 12-18 months. It is just one game but I think we have something substantial to build on.”