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Oliver Norwood staying in positive mood after Northern Ireland's dominant display


Tough luck: Oliver Norwood frustrated, but not downbeat
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Midfielder Oliver Norwood could not remember Northern Ireland being so dominant against high-quality opposition.

That's why, while disappointed with the 2-1 loss at home to Bosnia & Herzegovina on Saturday, the new Sheffield United ace was not downcast.

"I think it's the most dominant we've been that I can remember, especially when you consider the quality of the opposition," said Norwood.

"We've dominated games against the likes of San Marino and Azerbaijan but to do it against that level of opposition and come away with nothing is frustrating.

"There were a lot more positives than there were negatives.

"We started the game on the front foot and in the first minute, I have no idea how the referee hasn't given a penalty when George Saville was brought down. It was a clear penalty. Then we had them pinned in but we just couldn't punish them.

"We can take heart out of how we played though and look forward to the next round of games."

Before trips to Bosnia and Austria next month in the Nations League, Northern Ireland host Israel in a friendly tomorrow night. "We go again on Tuesday night. Michael (O'Neill) will decide who plays in that game but for me, I want to play in as many games as possible," says Norwood.

"Michael will make the call but sometimes the lads who come away and don't always play deserve a chance.

"They put a lot of hard work in and it is a good opportunity to let them have a game and hopefully they were will be able to show what they can do on Tuesday."

On his club career with the Blades, Norwood added: "It's nice to be back playing every week again at Sheffield United. A lot of the way we play there goes through me and I feel I'm getting my confidence back now.

"I'm used to playing in that system and it's very similar to how Michael wants us to play going forward."

O'Neill's men left Windsor Park frustrated and George Saville was among those cursing his luck the most. Middlesbrough's new £8m man felt he should have been awarded a penalty in the opening minute after a trip from Ervin Zukanovic. Czech referee Pavel Kralovec ignored the cries of the Green and White Army and it was the first big hint this wasn't going to be Northern Ireland's day.

Saville was impressive as O'Neill's side surged forward with hunger and purpose but they lacked a killer touch and Bosnia showed them how it's done.

"I thought we were brilliant in the first half and an early goal would have set us up nicely, reflected Saville.

"Even at 0-0 we we're dominating the game. It's just two mistakes which you will be punished for at this level and it resulted in two goals.

"For me it's a penalty, there's contact there and everyone could see that. You don't need to be a scientist to work that out.

"Maybe it was too early in the game, it's a big decision but whether it's the first minute or the 90th you've got to get them right. If that happens on the touch line to a winger it's probably a yellow card for a fullback. Players just want some consistency from referees.

"We didn't let them breathe. Fair play to everyone out there, we dominated and pushed them back. We showed how dangerous we can be and it's a really pleasing performance.

"We knew they liked to keep the ball at the back so we wanted to press high, go on the font foot and use the supporters as an extra man, it worked well."

Belfast Telegraph

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Tough luck: Oliver Norwood frustrated, but not downbeat