There was no redemptive final victory for departing Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington against a classy Italy last night, but he was still able to reflect on a “fantastic occasion” to end his tenure.
Worthington announced his decision to step down as manager on Monday but had his heart set on taking something better than a 3-0 defeat against a clearly superior Azzurri.
Injuries yet again worked against him though, with Craig Cathcart’s knee problem reducing him to just 16 fit players to choose from, and an Antonio Cassano brace put the hosts in control before Gareth McAuley’s own-goal completed the scoring.
Travelling fans in Pescara could hardly have expected much better, with inexperienced youngsters like Oliver Norwood, Andrew Little, Jonny Gorman and debutant Conor McLaughlin all on show.
But Worthington said: “What a fantastic occasion. What a fantastic game to finish on against a top quality side like Italy. And what an occasion for those youngsters, too.”