Northern Ireland: Michael O'Neill urges patience after Cyprus draw

O'Neill disappointed with NI display

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill admits his team are "miles away" from where they want to be after a scoreless draw in their friendly against Cyprus.

The visitors were outplayed in Nicosia but held on after Gareth McAuley's dismissal with 14 minutes left.

"People have to realise we are trying to build an international team here and it will take time," said O'Neill.

"We weren't good in possession and they were better on the ball. We are miles away from being the finished article."

The match was the 10th away friendly in succession without a goal for Northern Ireland, a run which stretches back to 2006.

No complaints over red card - McAuley

"They put us under pressure because we continually gave the ball away cheaply, and that was the most disappointing thing on the night," added O'Neill.

"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."

Northern Ireland had briefly looked as though they might end their lengthy goal drought in away friendlies, seeing plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges.

It culminated in Niall McGinn finding Martin Paterson at the near post in the 13th minute, but the Huddersfield striker's header was saved by Antonis Georgallides.

"I thought we started the game brightly and had a good chance saved but we lost our way a little bit after that," said O'Neill.

"It wasn't the level of performance we were capable of."

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