NI last 16 hopes in balance after loss to Germany

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Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 hopes hang in the balance after their 1-0 defeat by Germany in Paris.

Having failed to get the point which would have guaranteed progress to the last 16, the results of games still to be played will decide their fate.

Mario Gomez side-footed the game’s only goal in the 30th minute after Germany had wasted several chances.

The narrow defeat means NI are better placed than Albania, who finished third in Group A.

Now Michael O’Neill and his players must hope they end up with a better record than one of the third-placed teams in the three groups still to be completed.

Others will determine NI’s fate

These are the teams currently third in each group. The top four go through. If points are level, it comes down to goal difference, then goals scored, then fair play rankings from the group and finally - if they still cannot be divided - Uefa national team coefficient rankings

Despite losing, Northern Ireland’s players were given a rousing reception by the fans in green shirts who sang themselves hoarse from the start of the match until long after the final whistle when the German fans had left the stadium.

It is a waiting game now for them, with three groups still to be completed.

If things go their way in Group D on Tuesday, and the Czech Republic fail to beat Turkey, Northern Ireland will know their great Euro adventure will continue into the knockout stages.

Alternatively, they might have to wait until Wednesday’s final group fixtures are completed to discover if they stay or pack their bags.

But, if this turns out to be their last match of the tournament, they bow out with heads held high.

They looked in trouble early on when Germany – who win Group C ahead of Poland on goal difference – created a number of golden opportunities.

But resolute defending, outstanding goalkeeping and a bit of luck saw NI’s defence breached on just the one occasion.

Steven Davis

McGovern keeps goal difference healthy

O’Neill’s side would have suffered a heavier defeat but for the heroics of Michael McGovern.

The keeper, who is out of contract after two years at Hamilton, pulled off a series of magnificent saves and has never conceded more than one goal in any of his 14 appearances for his country.

But another fine record – Northern Ireland having let in just one first-half goal in their last 22 matches – did not survive at the Parc des Princes.

Their resistance was broken by the recalled Gomez, who struck his 28th international goal, turning in Thomas Muller’s touch from 10 yards out.

Germany could easily have been out of sight by the break, McGovern making some fine stops and Muller heading against the base of the post and seeing a shot strike the crossbar.

The world champions never looked like surrendering their lead, and should really have added to it early in the second half.

Mario Gotze was thwarted by another superb save by McGovern while the well-positioned Gomez was wasteful at the near post.

Man of the match – Michael McGovern

Michael McGovern

More to follow.

Line-ups

Northern Ireland

  • 1McGovern
  • 18Hughes
  • 4McAuley
  • 20Cathcart
  • 5Evans
  • 19Ward