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    Oxtoby rues Northern Ireland’s mistakes in Portugal loss


    Oxtoby expressed her frustration with Northern Ireland’s defending from the free-kick from which Rebecca McKenna fouled Alves and the referee awarded a penalty, especially after they had repelled numerous forays forward from Portugal in the early stages of the game.

    “We are disappointed it came from a set piece, I don’t think we were organised at the second phase [of the free-kick], and we give away a penalty,” she explained.

    Despite the manner of the goals, Oxtoby was keen to praise her side’s spirited display to continue battling to the end.

    “I’m super proud of the girls. For large parts of the game, we executed what we wanted to do, and it is a really positive performance.

    “After the first goal, we were still in the game even though we were under pressure, which was a positive for us, because at that point it was a bit nervy, and the crowd got behind them, but we rode it out really well.”

    Now attentions must turn quickly to the second game of their double-header against Portugal at Mourneview Park on Tuesday.

    Northern Ireland remain second in Group B3, a point ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite tasting defeat for the first time and will be desperate to bounce back from a testing evening in Leiria.

    Oxtoby said: “We always knew this was going to be really tough away from home, but there are plenty of learning opportunities from the game.

    “This group is tough, and we won’t roll over. We’re a team on a journey, but we’re going in the right direction and we’re looking forward to getting back and playing in front of our home crowd.”



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