Northern Ireland players celebrate

Michael O’Neill hopes Northern Ireland’s 100 per cent start to Euro 2020 qualifying has cranked up the pressure on Group C rivals Netherlands.

Michael O’Neill

Northern Ireland made it four wins from four games on Tuesday, leaving it late to beat Belarus 1-0 at the Borisov Arena.

O’Neill – whose side overcame Estonia at the weekend thanks to two late goals – had Paddy McNair to thank for another maximum points haul on the road, the Middlesbrough man opening his international account four minutes from time.

The result means Northern Ireland remain three points ahead of second-place Germany, who have a game in hand, and nine above beaten Nations League finalists Netherlands, who have played two fewer games.

They still have to face both of those sides twice and O’Neill says he was determined to build up a sizeable lead over Ronald Koeman’s side while they were in Nations League action.

“We have created a points gap between ourselves and Netherlands, who have been in the Nations League,” he told Sky Sports. “Hopefully they’ll play under more pressure. That was the objective.”