Player ratings: NI industrious but lacking match-winning quality

Date published: Sunday 12th June 2016 7:47

Stuart Dallas & Kyle Lafferty: No way through for Northern Ireland

We rate and slate the players’ performances as Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 opener against Poland ended in defeat in Nice.

Michael O’Neill’s men in a workmanlike shift – but were just lacking when it came to creating goalscoring chances as we look at their displays following the 1-0 defeat on Sunday afternoon.

MICHAEL McGOVERN: Made a decent save late in the first half, helping Bartosz Kapustka’s shot over the crossbar. Could do little about Arkadiusz Milik’s accomplished finish for the goal. 6/10

CONOR McLAUGHLIN: Steady, solid display from the Fleetwood right-back who, making the giant step up from League One football, did not look out of place. Terrific piece of covering on the hour to prevent Kapustka from a clear sight at goal. 7

CRAIG CATHCART: Seems to have a good understanding with Jonny Evans and largely handled the threat of Robert Lewandowski well. Can have no complaints about the yellow card he picked up for downing the Bayern Munich striker though. 7

JONNY EVANS: Let Lewandowski know early on he was around, clashing with the big striker a couple of times. A stern presence at the heart of the Northern Ireland back line, his experience is vital. 7

GARETH McAULEY: A typically committed display from the West Brom defender, more often than not getting his body in the way. 6

PADDY McNAIR: Came off at half-time as manager Michael O’Neill opted for a change of formation. Was probably the least effective of Northern Ireland’s defensive unit during the first half. 5

OLIVER NORWOOD: Worked hard and did his fair share in the battle to win possession in the middle of the park. A clever late free-kick almost brought the chance of a late equalising goal. 7

STEVEN DAVIS: Put in a good shift. The captain led from the front, providing a shield in front of his defence and attempting to offer some support to lone striker Kyle Lafferty. It was Davis who nearly got on the end of Norwood’s free-kick but the ball just ran beyond him. 7

CHRIS BAIRD: Went about his work quietly with most of his contributions coming off the ball, keeping the team’s shape and tracking runners. 6

SHANE FERGUSON: Was not involved too much and saw even less of the ball in the second half, leading to his substitution. 5

KYLE LAFFERTY: Worked tirelessly up front on his own but was isolated a little too much. Too often did he win headers and then have to chase down his own flick on. His confidence was not affected though, illustrated by a 20-yard overhead kick attempt in the second half. 7


STUART DALLAS (for McNair, 46): Adjusted to the game quickly and well, following his introduction at its midway point. Improved Northern Ireland’s transition from defence to attack. 6

CONOR WASHINGTON (for Ferguson, 66): Did well in his first competitive outing. The QPR forward almost made an immediate impact with a decent flick and run but his attempt to score was foiled by the goalkeeper. 7

JAMIE WARD (for Baird, 76): The Nottingham Forest forward offered a fresh injection of energy to the attack but was unable to make a telling contribution as the clock ticked down. 5

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