Nigel Worthington thanked his Northern Ireland players for a "fantastic" performance, despite them losing 2-1 against Group C rivals Serbia.
Worthington named a youthful side for the Euro 2012 qualifier in Belgrade and called on them to put in a performance full of discipline and desire.
Some heroic defending followed by a 40th-minute goal from the outstanding Gareth McAuley gave the visitors a surprise lead at the interval, before a strong second-half showing from the hosts yielded goals from Marko Pantelic and Zoran Tosic.
Worthington had targeted at least a point to keep his qualification plans on track but was full of praise for the way his side went about their work.
"I thought it was a tremendous performance from the Northern Ireland players," he said.