LOSS IS A SORE ONE FOR EVANS

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - Dar­ren Fullerton

JONNY EVANS in­sists it is a “myth” that North­ern Ire­land are a phys­i­cal side – and claims Michael O’Neill’s men were on the end of some rough jus­tice in Vienna.

Bolton striker Josh Ma­gen­nis – cer­tainly no shrink­ing vi­o­let on the pitch – also reck­oned the treat­ment dished out by the Aus­tri­ans was “hard to take”.

And Evans, vic­tim of a painful mid-air chal­lenge from Marko Ar­nau­tovic, who went on to score the only goal on Fri­day night at the Ernst Hap­pel Sta­dion, agreed.

The Le­ices­ter de­fender was left flat on the ground and said ref­eree Ge­orgi Kabakov should have of­fered more pro­tec­tion.

He also rounded on pre-match claims by the Aus­tri­ans that North­ern

Ire­land play a glad­i­a­to­rial brand of foot­ball – an un­fair stigma that sticks.

“I think it is a bit of a myth,” said Evans (right). “I think it all comes from the fact we play Bri­tish foot­ball. But look at our dis­ci­plinary record over the last num­ber of years.

“It’s one of the things we’ve made huge im­prove­ments with.

“Look at the phys­i­cal­ity of Aus­tria and the way they were in the match. I thought the ref­eree was poor in how he man­aged the game. “There were a lot of times we were go­ing for chal­lenges and they weren’t look­ing at the ball and mak­ing ob­vi­ous fouls which could be dan­ger­ous, es­pe­cially if you are in mid-air. “That hap­pened to me. I thought the of­fi­cials were re­ally, re­ally poor and a lot of de­ci­sions went their way. It’s not of­ten I say that.”

Evans believes Aus­tria – like many other con­ti­nen­tal Eu­ro­pean na­tions – are more “street­wise” in terms of gain­ing an edge.

“I think one thing peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate is the phys­i­cal­ity in Europe,” he said.

“They are a lot more clever than us in terms of buy­ing fouls.

“They are a lot more street­wise in how to con­trol the ref­eree. It’s a cul­ture thing.”

The Aus­tria de­feat, cou­pled with last month’s 2-1 loss to Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina in Belfast, leaves North­ern Ire­land rooted to the foot of their Na­tions League group.

But while O’Neill’s men face an up­hill strug­gle to avoid rel­e­ga­tion into the third tier, Evans is ea­ger to build mo­men­tum ahead of the Euro qual­i­fiers in March.

Next up is an away date with the Bos­ni­ans, who top the pool, be­fore the cam­paign con­cludes at home to the Aus­tri­ans.

He said: “I think the Euro qual­i­fiers is the main thing but we’ve taken this com­pe­ti­tion se­ri­ously. You can tell by the per­for­mances and how we’ve ap­plied our­selves.”

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