Capello bemused by Russia defeat
Russia boss Fabio Capello was left reeling after his side’s shock 1-0 defeat in a rescheduled World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in Belfast.
The Russian’s looked well placed to edge Portugal out of top spot in Group F until a goal from Huddersfield's Martin Paterson handed Michael O’Neill his first victory as an international manager, 20 months after he succeeded Nigel Worthington as Northern Ireland boss.
Capello is not likely to come under huge pressure as he struggles to justify his huge salary, but he offered few excuses as his side failed to fire at Windsor Park.
"I never saw the Northern Ireland team play so fast, so hard. I thought it was the best this team has played today," said a bemused Capello. "I saw three games they played before this game and they never ran so far, so quick. I think they played better than us. That is all I say.
"They played with speed and determination. they were always first to the ball. It is the best game I have seen Northern Ireland play. They played so fast, so hard. It was difficult for us.
"I am disappointed for all the players. Our performance was really, really bad. We made mistakes on their goal, but we do not give up on qualification. We have to forget this game and move forward. If we win our final four games, we will finish in first place in the group."
Northern Ireland boss O’Neill could not hide his delight as his tenth game in the job handed him a famous triumph.
"It was a great occasion for us and very satisfying for me personally," said O’Neill. "The players were magnificent from start to finish and deserved to win.
"It was very sweet, very nice. I’ve had a few disappointments in the job so far, so to win makes it a very special night for me. I said in the past when you have so few games and such a long time between the defeats and the draws that you carry them around much longer than at club level.
"Things have just not gone for us in my time in this job, but we played against one of the best teams in Europe and deserved the win.
"We can enjoy this for a couple of weeks and then we have another big game on our agenda against Portugal, so we have to try to use this result as a stepping stone."