Sunday 18 February 2018

Northern Ireland v San Marino: Story of the match

Kyle Lafferty stepped off the bench to score twice
Kyle Lafferty stepped off the bench to score twice

Substitute Kyle Lafferty scored twice as Northern Ireland recorded a 4-0 victory over minnows San Marino in the first international to be staged at the refurbished Windsor Park.

A crowd of 18,234 witnessed Lafferty's goals and strikes from Steven Davis and Jamie Ward, as well as a San Marino red card, as Michael O'Neill's side avoided any drama in their World Cup qualifier ahead of Tuesday's clash with Germany.

Davis converted a first-half penalty after Josh Magennis had been hauled down by Alessandro Della Valle, with the Southampton midfielder scoring his ninth international goal, seven of which have come in the month of October, before Lafferty and Ward enhanced the scoreline by scoring three times between them in the final 11 minutes.


"Just great: Northern Ireland 4 - 0 San Marino #daretodream #GAWA @NorthernIrelnd @OfficialIrishFA #WorldCupQualifier" Northern Irish politician Robin Newton (RobinNewton4MLA), DUP MLA for East Belfast.


Kyle Lafferty. Only on the pitch for 18 minutes plus stoppage time, Lafferty scored twice to take his international tally to 18 goals, and even set up Jamie Ward for his country's third. He was pivotal in the previous qualifying campaign for the Euros, scoring seven in that process, and he got up and running with a double in Belfast on Saturday night.


One year on from his brace in the Euro 2016 qualifying-clinching win over Greece, Davis scored his ninth goal in Northern Irish colours. Seven of those have arrived in October. FIFA president Gianni Infantino was present on Saturday night and the Irish FA may just try and persuade him to rearrange all of their international fixtures for the 10th month of the year.


Relegated to the bench, probably because of his lack of time with club side Norwich, Lafferty arrived on the pitch with a point to prove and will surely have given O'Neill plenty to ponder about who leads the line against Germany on Tuesday night. The fact Lafferty looked fit and bagged a brace was the most encouraging thing to emerge from the evening.


Northern Ireland

Michael McGovern 6/10

Conor McLaughlin 8

Gareth McAuley 7

Jonny Evans 7

Shane Ferguson 8

Stuart Dallas 6

Steven Davis 9

Oliver Norwood 6

Niall McGinn 8

Jamie Ward 9

Josh Magennis 7


Conor Washington (for Dallas, 65) 6

Kyle Lafferty (for Magennis, 73) 9

Paddy McNair (for McLaughlin, 78) 6


Germany v Northern Ireland (World Cup qualifier, October 11)

Norway v San Marino (World Cup qualifier, October 11)

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