Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill was happy to see his side avoid a heavy defeat following their 3-1 loss to Germany at Windsor Park on Thursday.
The top two teams in qualification Group C went head-to-head in Belfast but it proved to be a one-sided affair as Germany raced into an early two-goal lead after strikes from Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner.
Joshua Kimmich added a third for the reigning world champions late on as they secured their qualification for next summer’s World Cup although there was time for Josh Magennis to grab a stoppage-time consolation for the hosts.
Northern Ireland remain well placed to secure a play-off spot for next summer’s tournament in Russia and O’Neill admits he was happy to avoid a morale-sapping hammering at the hands of the Germans.
“The early goal made it difficult, it knocked us back and took us a while to get going,” O’Neill told Sky Sports.
“This was a bonus game for us, it could have gone to 4-0 or 5-0 but we kept out goal difference in a healthy state. It could easily have been obliterated.”
Northern Ireland have not qualified for a World Cup since 1986 but can move a step closer by claiming a positive result against Norway in their final qualifier on Sunday.
The Green and White Army secured a 2-0 victory against Norway earlier in the qualification campaign although they have never claimed an away success against the Scandinavian nation.