Michael O'Neill says Northern Ireland did not deserve to lose against Austria
Northern Ireland lost 2-1 to Austria in their final Nations League game
Last Updated: 18/11/18 7:51pm
Michael O'Neill says Northern Ireland did not deserve to lose against Austria after a late goal condemned them to another Nations League defeat.
Valentino Lazaro's 92nd-minute goal saw the hosts beaten 2-1 at Windsor Park in their final game of the competition, meaning they end the campaign with no points, no wins and relegation to League C.
But Northern Ireland did match Austria for much of the game, with Corry Evans' equaliser their first goal in four internationals, and O'Neill believes his side should have got something for their efforts.
"We didn't deserve to lose the game, there's no doubt about that," he told Sky Sports. "We go behind, it was a soft goal probably if we look at it, but the game was fairly matched in the first half.
"Our reaction to going behind was excellent, I thought we played very well, and I thought up until about 80 minutes, we looked like the team most likely to win the game and then I think we tired a little bit. We have a lot of players who aren't playing regular first team football and you saw that possibly in the last five or six minutes.
"They brought on a top player [Marko Arnautovic] and it lifted them. For the goal, it was the last kick of the ball and it was a fantastic finish, but certainly, we didn't deserve it.
"There was a lot of poor decisions [from the referee] as well. There was a foul on George Saville in the middle of the pitch by a player who has already been booked and the referee let the game go. We were disappointed with his performance as well."
It has been a campaign to forget for Northern Ireland, but O'Neill says they will take the positives of their performances into the next international break in March.
"We've lost the four games, we can't get away from that. You can't try and sugar coat that in any way but I think on the balance of performances, the results are extremely harsh on us," he added.
"As a team, we need to forget the Nations League to be honest and take a lot from how we've played and hopefully take that level of performance into March.
"We're a young team and I think people have to realise what we're trying to do here. We're asking young players to step up, at times from Sky Bet League One or Sky Bet Championship level and they're coping very well with it.
"But sometimes, they'll need time and in games, they'll maybe not manage games particularly well and possibly today was an example of that as well. There is a lot of learning there but to come into a game where there was no real consequence so we can't be too down on ourselves about it."