Czech Republic 0-0 Northern Ireland: O'Neill's side produce fantastic defensive display to gain credible draw

It was a decent start to the World Cup qualifying campaign for the Green and White Army.

Czech Republic 0-0 Northern Ireland: O'Neill's side produce fantastic defensive display to gain credible draw
The Green and White Army's defence stood strong in the second half (Picture source: Getty Images)
Czech Republic
0 0
Northern Ireland
Czech Republic: Vaclik, Kaderabek, Suchy, Kadlec, Novak, Skalak, Darida, Pavelka, Krejci, Kadlec (Vydra, min. 83), Skoda (Necid, min. 68).
Northern Ireland: McGovern, McLaughlin, McAuley, Evans, Ferguson (Hodson, min. 66) , McNair, Davis, Norwood, Dallas, Ward (McGinn, min. 74), Lafferty (Magennis, min. 59).
REFEREE: Anastasios Sidiropoulos (GRE). Booked - Norwood (min. 30), Ward (min. 58), Pavelka (min. 80)
INCIDENTS: WORLD CUP QUALIFYING GROUP C MATCH BETWEEN Czech Republic AND Northern Ireland, held in Prague

Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland side began their FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign with a very credible 0-0 draw in Prague against the Czech Republic.

It was a game with very few chances but when they did come it was a combination of poor finishing and great defending preventing the goals, especially from Jonny Evans who had a superb game at the back for the Green and White Army.

The Green and White Army stand firm

Despite the visitors making a bright start, it was the hosts who had the first big chance when a cross into the box went all the way through to Pavel Kadeřábek, who was unmarked at the back post, but he couldn't keep his shot on target and skied it when he should have scored.

After the early opportunity the hosts found it hard going to try and get past a stubborn defence. The visitors took confidence from this and almost hit the Czechs on the break when Conor McLauglin won the ball and played it to Paddy McNair. The defender let fly from the edge of the box but was denied by goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík

The Czechs started to get frustrated as the half went on and were restricted to shots from long-range. If O'Neill's team could have taken better care with the ball on the counter attack they could have been in on goal on a couple occasions.

Once again though during the first half, the Green and White Army showed the togetherness that got them so far at the Euros in the summer.

McNair had Northern Ireland's best chance of the game | Photo: Getty
McNair had Northern Ireland's best chance of the game | Photo: Getty

The Czechs failed to make their second half dominance count

The second half started very scrappily until the Czechs almost pulled off a moment of magic to open the scoring. A brilliant passing move from the whole team found Václav Kadlec free on the edge of the box and the striker hit a first-time shot which was well saved by Michael McGovern, who was called into action for the first time in the game.

The hosts started the dominate the game thereafter and should have taken the lead just after the hour mark. Filip Novák found himself with the goal at his mercy after the visitors failed to clear a cross but the midfielder somehow put his left-footed shot wide of the goal.

After that, there really wasn't many clear cut opportunities in the game, even though the ball was put into the Northern Ireland box on many occasions; every time it looked like an opening was coming, the defence - primarily Evans - were there to block it. 

The visitors' very rarely attacked in the second half as the Czechs totally dominated, yet they failed to score much to the frustration to the whole team and had to settle for a draw.