Sport

Two-goal hero Josh Magennis relieved as Northern Ireland see off San Marino

Josh Magennis is mobbed by team-mates after opening the scoring for Northern Ireland
Liam Blackburn in Serravalle

JOSH Magennis is backing Northern Ireland to continue showing they are not a "one-trick pony" as they aim to wrap up second place in Group C.

Northern Ireland have enjoyed a renaissance under Michael O'Neill, backing up their run to the last 16 of last year's European Championship by taking a firm grip on a top-two place in World Cup qualifying.

Friday's 3-0 win over minnows San Marino left O'Neill's side seven points clear of third place with three games to play.

Northern Ireland host nearest challengers the Czech Republic on Monday bidding to take another big step towards securing a play-off berth for the finals in Russia.

"It was a tricky game," Magennis told Sky Sports following the victory in Serravalle.

"It's always good to score and win the game, especially on pitches like this.

"It's always nice to win 3-0, but especially in these types of situations with a game on Monday.

"When you're playing up front you need to stay in the box and the chances will come and it's up to you to put them away. I managed to get a double which is fantastic. But the result is the most important thing.

"The minimum we want is the play-offs and that's the biggest cherry we have.

"We came into the campaign on the back of the Euros and everyone was asking if we were a one-trick pony and whether we could do it again.

"But we're a great bunch of lads and with the quality we have we know how to play.

"Monday is going to be massive, especially in front of our fans at Windsor Park. It's going to be rocking."

Magennis made the breakthrough on 70 minutes and soon made it 2-0 with a header before sensing an opportunity to complete his hat-trick when Alex Gasperoni handled in the area, only for Steven Davis to take the spot-kick.

"I asked to take the penalty, but he's the captain and leader of the team and what he says goes when Michael's not around," said Magennis.

"It would have been nice to get the hat-trick, but he's the man so I can't really be arguing.

"As long as we won, I'm happy for him to get his goal because he deserved it. He's the catalyst for this team."

Davis hailed the performance of Magennis and admitted he was never going to give up the chance of an international goal.

"He was a real threat for us all night and was rewarded with two goals," said Davis.

"He was obviously desperate for the penalty to get his hat-trick, but I politely told him to go away.

"Monday is a massive game and it's all to play for.

"There's a nice carrot there for us to go and get a good result.

"Windsor will be bouncing. It'll be an electric atmosphere and let's hope we put in a good performance and get a good result again."

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