Euro 2016

Qualification in the balance for Northern Ireland after Germany defeat

Liam Blackburn, Press Association Sport, Paris
21 June, 2016 19:35

NORTHERN Ireland's last-16 chances at Euro 2016 are hanging in the balance following a 1-0 loss to the world champions Germany which may yet see them advance.

Mario Gomez's first-half finish came amid a flurry of opportunities for the dominant Germans, who had 71 per cent possession, yet a herculean effort from soon-to-be free agent Michael McGovern ensured Michael O'Neill's team finished in third with a goal difference of zero.

That is greater than Albania's total and if they gain more points or boast a greater goal difference than just one of the other teams to finish third during the group stage then they will progress to the knockout stages.

The fact they are still in with a chance owes much to McGovern's heroics as he denied Muller, Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze in the first half before thwarting Gotze and Gomez again with even better saves after the break.

Northern Ireland scored plenty of goals... in their warm-up:

The prospect of a potentially historic night for Northern Ireland had brought four-time major winning golfer Rory McIlroy, one of their most famous sporting sons, to the French capital, though he was soon craning his neck in one direction as the Germans took control.

With Conor Washington cut adrift in attack, the Northern Irish midfield were unable to stop Toni Kroos and, in particular, Ozil pulling apart their defence.

McGovern's one-on-one save from Thomas Muller was the first of a trio of stops in quick succession, the others coming from Ozil and Gotze, before Muller steered another attempt just past the post.

Still the attacks came and after Muller nodded Joshua Kimmich's cross on to the post, it took just two more minutes before McGovern was finally beaten.

Will Grigg on the big screen:

21 June, 2016 19:35 Euro 2016

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