Whilst Euro 2020 qualification may be all but out of sight via the traditional route, Niall McGinn and Michael Smith still played their part in a great Northern Ireland result.
They drew 0-0 with the Netherlands in Belfast, a terrific result given the gulf in class between the two sides. A valiant effort earned them a point but it all but ends their automatic qualification chances via the groups.
It means that Michael O’Neill will get the chance to bow out of his Northern Ireland role in the Euro 2020 play-offs next year, where they will play for a place at next summer’s tournament.
Smith and McGinn could have featured in famous Northern Ireland win
Whilst a draw is a fantastic result, it could’ve been much more for Northern Ireland. Steven Davis blasted a penalty over the bar in the first half, which would’ve sealed a win.
Smith appeared on the hour mark for O’Neill, and as always, he turned in an assured display. McGinn appeared from the bench with 20 minutes to go but couldn’t crack the Dutch armour.
There were other notable SPFL faces on the bench too, with Motherwell pair Trevor Carson and Liam Donnelly unused substitutes. Interim Jambos boss Austin MacPhee also took his place on the bench as part of O’Neill’s backroom staff.
It could’ve been a historic night in Belfast, but Northern Ireland will still be pleased with the Netherlands display.