Michael O'Neill criticises 'unacceptable' Northern Ireland

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O'Neill apologises to fans after Luxembourg defeat

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill says his team's performance in the 3-2 World Cup qualifying defeat by Luxembourg was "unacceptable".

"We did not deserve anything out of the game - Luxembourg were better than us," O'Neill said.

"We have no right to think we are better than them. Our energy and work rate was not at the level required.

"We were fortunate to go ahead and we didn't learn from that. Then after we get level, we lose from a set-piece."

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Martin Paterson admits Northern Ireland were not good enough in Luxembourg

Gareth McAuley appeared to have earned the visitors a draw after Martin Paterson's opener was overhauled by Aurelien Joachim and Stefano Bensi.

But Janisch's 87th-minute goal condemned O'Neill's men to a fourth defeat of the qualifying campaign.

They sit fourth in Group F and can not qualify for next year's final.

The defeat in Luxembourg followed a 1-0 win over Russia in August and a creditable performance against Portugal on Friday when Northern Ireland led 2-1 until Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick turned the game around after Chris Brunt and Kyle Lafferty were sent off.

"This is a team that needs to find ways to win games," O'Neill continued.

"We've had a lot of plaudits in the last couple of games but the reality is it counts for little when you come and play like tonight.

"It's OK lifting it for Portugal and Russia, but we needed that tonight. When we're down gears we're average.

"In these games when we are expected to win, we need to bring the basic ingredients to win a football match.

"We did not manage the game well when we were on top and we did not deserve anything from the game. Luxembourg were the better team on the night."

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