Northern Irish defeat so hard to take for Hull City’s Josh Magennis
Northern Ireland equalised in the 87th minute after great work from Middlesbrough’s Paddy McNair forced Milan Skriniar to turn the ball into his own net.
However, Slovakia booked their place at next summer’s tournament when Michal Duris fired home in the second-half of extra-time.
Magennis had played a key role in helping Northern Ireland reach the play-offs. He scored late goals in group ties against Belarus and Estonia to help his nation finish third in a qualifying pool that also contained Germany and Holland.
“It is so raw, especially when you have given it everything,” said Magennis. “Nights like this, the ball just doesn’t fall for you. We had great chances, both teams did, but ours didn’t go in.
“It is a sore one to take and we will just have to stay together as a group and try to move on.”
Northern Ireland were the width of a post from booking their slot at a second-consecutive European Championships when Kyle Lafferty’s shot from the edge of the area agonisingly struck the woodwork in the 90th minute.
It has been a tough week for Lafferty, after his sister, Sonia, died at the age of 41 last Thursday.
“The week he has gone through, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” added Magennis.
“You could see at the final whistle how the emotions overflowed. It is just the fine margins.
“Sometimes they go for you, sometimes they go against you and this time they just went against us.”
Northern Ireland are back in action on Sunday as they take on Austria in the Nations League.
Ian Baraclough’s side have yet to win a Nations League game since the competition’s formation in 2018.
Of their eight games in the competition, Northern Ireland have lost seven and drawn just one.
They lost the reverse fixture against Austria 1-0 when the sides met in Belfast last month.
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