Northern Ireland won their first competitive home game since 2019 in one of the close football scores of the weekend in World Cup qualifying. They beat the same team away when they met in September but losses to Switzerland and Bulgaria ended any qualification hopes. The victory was about gaining momentum for the future with a Lithuanian own goal giving them all three points. The hosts dominated the game and deserved to win by a bigger margin. Ali McCann and Josh Magennis had their goals ruled out after marginal offside decisions.
Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough: “The first half was as good as we’ve played since I took the job. We were full of energy and moved the ball quickly to create two vs ones in wide areas. We got into some great positions. We should have gone in at half-time more than 1-0.” he added. “We got a bit ragged in our passing during the second half and that meant it kept coming back at us, meaning it was a backs-to-the-wall second half. But I’m delighted to get a clean sheet and move on.”
“It was excellent in the first half, the tempo dropped in the second half as chances were limited. But Northern Ireland managed the game well. Three points and a clean sheet. The only disappointment is they didn’t score more goals. It was an effervescent performance in the first half with a good attitude and lots of quality.” Neil Lennon said.
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