Northern Irish facing ‘uphill’ task

Northern Ireland have left themselves with a mountain to climb after just two World Cup qualifiers, according to midfielder Chris Brunt.

A 2-0 defeat away to Russia in their Group F opener was no surprise, but their hopes of a positive campaign sustained a serious blow when bottom seeds Luxembourg snatched a 1-1 draw at Windsor Park on Tuesday.

Northern Ireland had three “goals” disallowed by the officials following Rangers striker Dean Shiels’ 14th-minute opener. Brunt then struck the base 
of a post just moments before Daniel Da Costa’s wickedly-deflected equaliser.

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With one point from two games, including what should have been their easiest assignment of all, West Brom captain Brunt said: “We are disappointed we didn’t see the game out and that’s down to complacency.

“Luxembourg had confidence and worked hard, but it was a pretty lucky goal towards the end of the second half and it went against the run of play.

“It will be an uphill battle now. We didn’t do ourselves any harm against Russia, which was always going to be difficult, but now we have a mountain to climb in the next few qualifiers.”