MATT O’RILEY suffered a shock defeat as Northern Ireland wrecked his Denmark debut in Belfast last night.
The Celtic midfielder was praised for his performance, but couldn’t prevent a 2-0 loss in the final Euro 2024 qualifier with the Danes already among the countries who have already sealed their place in next summer’s soccer showpiece in Germany.
London-born O’Riley, whose mother is Danish, stepped up for the Under-21 squad to take his bow in the senior squad at Windsor Park, but things didn’t quite go according to plan for the Group H winners – thanks to a one-time Celt.
AIR WE GO…Matt O’Riley has lift-off as he scores Celtic’s stoppage-time winner against Motherwell at Fir Park in September.
Goalkeeper Conor Hazard, hero of the Hoops’ phenomenal quadruple treble success during the Scottish Cup Final penalty-kick shoot-out against Hearts almost three years ago, proved to be unbeatable on the night with three excellent saves to deny the Danes.
Twenty-two-year-old O’Riley offered no excuses after the setback and said: “I’m obviously proud to have played my first game.
“It’s a strange feeling with it being a loss, but it’s still a cap for your country which is something to be proud of, but, yeah, I’d like to help a bit more going forward in terms of winning more games.
“We prepared well, but I think we didn’t really deserve to win. Northern Ireland defended really well and worked really hard, so credit to them.”Obviously, I want to play regularly for my country going forward and really impact games.”
O’Riley, speaking in a report in the Scottish Sun, added: “We’ve got a very strong midfield, but I still feel like I’m more than comfortable to play the level.
“For now, it’s just back to Celtic and try and perform as well as I can to make more squads going forward.”
Hazard, who left Parkhead in the summer after a decade to sign for Plymouth Argyle, proved to be an insurmountable barrier while second-half goals from Isaac Price and Dion Charles gave the hosts only their third win of the year.