From Macdara Ferris in the Parc des Princes
Goalkeeper Michael McGovern was the hero for Northern Ireland against Germany on Tuesday evening at the Parc des Princes.
While Mario Gomez did beat the Hamilton Academical ‘keeper once to earn Germany a 1-0 win, McGovern stood strong against everything else the World Champions threw at the ‘Norn Iron’ defence and that was crucial to helping them succesfully qualify for the last 16.
McGovern had spoken ahead of the game about wanting to be tested by the best and tested he certainly was. The Germans had no less than 26 shots during the Group C game, with McGovern forced to save on eight occasions, three times against Gomez, with Thomas Muller twice hitting the frame of McGovern’s goal.
“I did expect to be busy because we are playing the world champions and they have got so many good players,” the goalkeeper told extratime.ie after the game.
“I’m happy with how it went personally and for the team. I thought the boys defended really well. It’s hard against such good players. It’s really difficult.
“Personally I was a lot busier than last week [in the win against Ukraine] when I kept a clean sheet. It’s funny how it works out. I’ve enjoyed it tonight. I’ve enjoyed the whole tournament. It’s been amazing and we just want to stay here for a bit longer.”
Turkey’s 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in the later game means that the North will get at least one more fixture – likely to be against Wales in a match to be played in the Parc des Princes venue next Saturday.
Blackburn Rovers midfielder Corey Evans was thankful to have McGovern on fire in goal on Tuesday evening. “When your back is to the wall like that, you need a goalkeeper on form and luckily we’ve got Michael. He was unbelievable tonight. Even in the last two games he has been playing very well and hopefully he can keep this form going.”
His teammate Alan Mannus was also delighted with how McGovern and the rest of the defence played. Speaking exclusively to extratime.ie, Mannus described the Northern Ireland number 1’s performance as “brilliant.”
“I thought we defended well,” said the St. Johnstone goalkeeper. “They are a top team so they are always going to have chances. The fans were brilliant. I went out after the game to do some stuff on the pitch. It was 10 minutes after the end of the game and they were all still there singing. It was great to see.
Mannus also spoke about his time being managed by Michael O’Neill with the former Linfield and Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper having experience with O'Neill at both club and country level.
“We worked together at Shamrock and he did very well there,” said the 34-year-old goalkeeper.
“I’m delighted that he has done so well with Northern Ireland as I knew he was capable of that. He is a brilliant manager and understands football and that has been shown in the way we’ve played and the results we’ve got.”
Extratime.ie also caught up with the Northern Ireland skipper Stephen Davis after the game. Read his thoughts here.