NORTHERN Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has blasted Kyle Lafferty for a “reckless” tackle which got him sent off on Friday night.
With Northern Ireland 2-1 up against ten-man Portugal, O’Neill was looking for cool heads to see out the remainder of the game.
But the wheels came off when Christ Brunt was sent to the dressing room for a second yellow card offence.
And then substitute Lafferty got a straight card for a late challenge on Jose Pereira after only being on the pitch for 15 minutes when he replaced Niall McGinn.
At his post match post mortem, O’Neill could barely hide his disappointment at a possible dream night which then ended up a nightmare.
“Kyle’s was a very reckless challenge, ridiculous,” said O’Neill.
“His team-mates deserved better than that.”
Lafferty and Brunt both missed Northern Ireland’s 1-0 memorable win over Russia last month at Windsor Park.
Now the pair are suspended for Tuesday’s qualifier away to Luxembourg.
But O’Neill didn’t miss and hit the wall with Lafferty’s display.
“I feel he let the players down,” added manager O’Neill.
“We talk about reliability. We do not have that many players and the ones who come, we need them to be reliable and to do what you ask them to do.”
O’Neill, however, said he had sympathy for Brunt who was sent off for two yellow cards while the hosts were leading 2-1 through goals from Gareth McAuley and Jamie Ward.
“I played him at left-back which is an unfamiliar role for him,” he said.
“The first tackle was certainly a booking, but the second one, the guy goes to ground and the entire Portuguese bench were on their feet urging the referee to get the card out.”