NI boss Oxtoby 'super happy' despite Portugal defeat

Northern Ireland manager Tanya Oxtoby says her players were "sensational" despite a 2-1 defeat by group leaders Portugal in the Euro 2025 qualifier at Moureview Park.

Portugal beat Northern Ireland 4-0 on Friday night but it was a much closer encounter four days later in Lurgan.

Lauren Wade gave the hosts an early lead but Portugal hit back with goals from Francisca Nazareth and Andreia Norton.

"I'm really proud of the performance - I thought we executed everything in large parts," said Oxtoby.

"We pushed them all the way to the end and from my point of view I'm super happy. I think the players can be really proud of themselves."

The result leaves Northern Ireland third in League B Group 3, two points behind Bosnia-Herzgovina and eight adrift of Portugal after four games.

Wade's strike provided the perfect start and it was the first goal conceded by Portugal in the qualifiers.

"To start well like that gave us a good foundation and a little bit of confidence. The girls were sensational," added Oxtoby.

"We didn't feel we were far off it on Friday night - I know the score didn't reflect that but from our point of view we felt were doing the right thing and we worked a lot on the transitional moments, trying to be clinical."

Northern Ireland switched off for Portugal's leveller and a mistake led to their second on the half-hour mark.

Oxtoby believes errors will be made as her young team develops.

"I'll take that - I want us to try and play in the right moments and from my point of view the more we try to do that the more we're going to progress up the pitch and the more we're going to create.

"You have to be brave and they didn't get much wrong. That's a sign of a team that's staring to grow in confidence."