Michael O'Neill: Win over Denmark a step in right direction for Northern Ireland
Michael O'Neill called Northern Ireland's 2-0 win over Denmark a step in the right direction but knows his side remain a long way from the finished article.
In their final Group H fixture of a miserable campaign, O'Neill's side finally beat someone other than minnows San Marino as second-half goals from Isaac Price and Dion Charles earned Northern Ireland their first competitive win over a team ranked above them since they beat Ukraine in June 2016.
It will not paper over the long list of issues facing O'Neill as he tries to rebuild his injury-ravaged squad, but it will provide a much-needed shot of belief and confidence at the end of a year which has seen supplies of both run low.
O'Neill has had to lean on several young players, more than he would have liked, whose introduction to international football has been a tough one, but a night like this can change the narrative.
"It's totally different," O'Neill said of the mood inside his dressing room. "You can see the young lads and you can see what it means to them. The ones who were involved in the previous campaign, I think they only won one game and this campaign we've only won three.
"We've been challenged in this campaign so they'll take a lot from tonight.
"It's a good result against a good team but that's all it is. Hopefully they'll come back in March with added confidence and belief, regardless of who the opposition are...
"I'm not getting carried away. It's a step in the right direction and we have to take more steps in the right direction."
Northern Ireland started well, with Dion Charles hitting the post eight minutes in before Eoin Toal headed wide.
Gradually Denmark, who have finished top of Euro 2024 qualifying Group H despite the loss, grew into the game but Conor