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Michael O'Neill frustrated as Northern Ireland draw a blank in Cyprus

Last Updated: 06/03/14 10:31am

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Michael O'Neill: Lamented his side's display in the Cyprus draw

Michael O'Neill: Lamented his side's display in the Cyprus draw

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Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill admits his side are "miles away" from where they want to be after a disappointing stalemate in Cyprus on Wednesday evening.

O'Neill's side struggled to impose themselves against a team ranked 122nd in the world, but escaped with a draw despite playing the final 15 minutes with 10 men following Gareth McAuley's red card.

Northern Ireland have now neither scored nor won in 13 away friendlies.

"People have to realise we are trying to build an international team here and it will take time. We are miles away from being the finished article," he said.

"We weren't good in possession and they were better on the ball. They put us under pressure because we continually gave the ball away cheaply and that was the most disappointing thing on the night.

"In the second half we were better, we had one or two half-chances, but the lads know we are capable of a lot more than that.

"We had a number of players who were not quite at the pace of the game so a draw, given the level of performance, probably isn't the worst result we could have got."

O'Neill had no argument with McAuley's dismissal, adding: "It looked like the guy was possibly through so Gareth was given a decision to make and stretched to get there.

"I would want to see it again but I wouldn't say it was totally unjustified.

"In a friendly game could the referee have given a yellow? Possibly, because their player wasn't through the middle of the pitch, he was coming from the wide area.

"But we gave the ball away poorly and it was disappointing to see one of our defenders put in that position."

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