Euro 2016: 5 things we learned from Northern Ireland's loss to Germany


Northern Ireland finished third in Euro 2016 Group C after losing 1-0 to Germany in Paris.

Mario Gomez got the only goal thanks mainly to goalkeeper Michael McGovern who produced brilliant saves to deny Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and Gomez.

Here, sports writer Rory Dollard considers five key issues arising from the Parc des Princes encounter.

1. Northern Ireland wouldn't be out of place in the last 16.

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty battling against Germany

Ranked by the bookies as the worst team in the competition - or least likely to win it, anyway - they would be fully deserving of the knockouts.

They showed they could win a game against Ukraine and here they fought for their lives. They were second best, comfortably and on every metric imaginable. But so they should have been against the world champions.

They are authentic underdogs and will continue to fight for their lives for as long as they are able.

2. The GAWA were simply glad to be there.

Northern Ireland fans support their side against Germany

Michael O'Neill and his proud players were never going to settle for merely being part of the tournament, but the same cannot be said of their fans.

This was a party 30 years in the making for some of international football's most committed supporters and they were never going to do anything other than enjoy.

Win, lose or draw they were here to sing, dance and register their admiration for the team's efforts.

It may not be a chance that comes again soon but they are making the most of every moment in France.

3. Conor Washington needs support.

Conor Washington playing against Germany

QPR striker Conor Washington came up through the leagues the hard way and is game for a challenge. But this was an ask too far.

He played with his back to goal for the majority of the match, often staring back at 40 yards of clear space separating him from his team-mates.

Against defenders of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng's calibre that was never going to end well. If Northern Ireland are to progress they must find someone to play closer to their number nine.

4. Steven Davis needs to be on the ball.

Steven Davis playing for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis was their all-round MVP in qualifying and has been an important player for Southampton for the last couple of seasons.

When he shines, the side generally do too but he was lost in the shuffle for too long here.

He became just another midfield body at times but one lung-busting give-and-go up the pitch after 56 minutes showed the impact he could have.

5. Michael McGovern's phone might be ringing soon.

Michael McGovern saves from Thomas Muller (Thibault Camus/AP)

The 31-year-old from Enniskillen is one of the least assuming men imaginable, and could walk down most high streets unnoticed.

But he has been quietly impressive ever since taking the number one shirt from Roy Carroll halfway through qualifying.

This was his career high, a magnificent showing against a team of global stars.

He is out of contract with Hamilton in the summer and he can expect to have options sooner rather than later after this masterclass.