Euro 2020 qualifier: Davis misses penalty as NI draw with Netherlands in Belfast

The penalty miss by Davis came on his 116th international appearance

Northern Ireland’s slim hopes of qualifying automatically for the Euro 2020 finals ended as they drew 0-0 with the Netherlands in Belfast.

Captain Steven Davis blasted a first-half penalty over the bar in what may be manager Michael O’Neill’s final home game in charge.

NI can still progress to next summer’s tournament through the play-offs, for which O’Neill will remain at the helm.

The Dutch have reached the finals after earning the one point they needed.

Germany will also compete in next summer’s finals as they moved top of Group C, two points ahead of the Dutch, with a 4-0 home win over Belarus, rendering Tuesday night’s final fixtures between Germany and Northern Ireland and the Netherlands and Estonia meaningless in terms of qualification.

Northern Ireland’s place in the play-offs was assured by virtue of Sweden’s victory over Romania on Friday night, with an away tie against Bosnia the most likely scenario as it stands.

O’Neill’s side faced the daunting task of having to beat the Dutch and the Germans by a cumulative total of at least four goals to finish in the top two, but they fell short in the first of those two challenges.

O’Neill shows positivity after making move to Stoke

The match was played against the backdrop of O’Neill having agreed to take over as manager of struggling Championship side Stoke City eight days ago, and the team and supporters were keen to mark what could potentially be the final home game of O’Neill’s eight-year reign with a notable victory.

O’Neill will always be revered as the manager who took his country to their first-ever European Championships and a first major tournament finals for 30 years.

He could yet add to that legacy by securing a place at next year’s tournament, although it remains unsure whether he would lead Northern Ireland to those finals should they make it through their play-off semi-final and final in four months’ time.

Having seen his side suffer an agonising last-gasp defeat to the Dutch last month despite a spirited defensive display, O’Neill showed more positive intent by selecting an attacking line-up for this encounter.

Fit-again Jamal Lewis was restored to the side along with Cardiff city winger Gavin Whyte and Josh Magennis, who was rewarded for scoring three goals as a substitute during this campaign.

More to follow.

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