The Green and White Army lost in manager Michael O’Neill’s first competitive game in charge, but managed to prevent their opponents breaking into their territory too much in each half.
"We did what we wanted to do and that was frustrate," McAuley told Sky Sports.
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"The pressure was on us to be better with the ball this time but we knew they were a top side and would have a lot of the ball.
"But we annoyed them and we could have had a goal ourselves."
McAuley was also heavily involved in his side’s attacking play, twice heading over from Chris Brunt crosses, and believes there is a good understanding between himself and his West Brom club-mate.
He added: "Brunty and I have talked about doing what we did at the club - his corner and my header.
"We had talked about how small a side they generally are and we just agreed in situations like that we would go for it."