Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Return to Big Time Was a Wake-Up Call, Says O'Neill

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Return to Big Time Was a Wake-Up Call, Says O'Neill

Article excerpt

MICHAEL O'Neill acknowledged his Northern Ireland team's introduction to major tournament football was an eye-opening experience as they were beaten in their first fixture at a finals since 1986.

Arkadiusz Milik's 51st-minute goal consigned O'Neill's side to a 1-0 Euro 2016 loss to Poland in Nice, 30 years to the day since Billy Bingham's side were beaten by Brazil at the Mexico World Cup.

For a team that started two wingbacks who ply their trade in England's third tier, O'Neill conceded facing the likes of Milik, Robert Lewandowski and Grzegorz Krychowiak on such a grand stage may have been a shock to the system.

"I felt they started very brightly, maybe we didn't expect that type of start," O'Neill admitted. "If you look at our team the two lads that were playing in the wing-back positions, they play their club football at League One level. …

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