Friday 20 April 2018

McAuley brace puts North on the brink

Gareth McAuley scores the second goal for Northern Ireland
Gareth McAuley scores the second goal for Northern Ireland Newsdesk Newsdesk

Northern Ireland took a major stride towards their first major finals since 1986 as they moved to the top of European Championship qualifying Group F with a 3-1 win over the Faroe Islands in Torshavn.

Two goals from Gareth McAuley and a third from Kyle Lafferty sealed the victory while there was more good news for Michael O'Neill's men from Budapest where rivals Hungary and Romania played out a goalless draw.

Joan Edmundsson had briefly hit the visitors' hopes with a 36th-minute equaliser but he was later sent off and Northern Ireland now go into Monday's Belfast clash with the Hungarians knowing qualification is within their grasp.

Romania dropped to second after their Budapest stalemate but will be happier with a point which maintains their three-point gap over the third-placed hosts with three favourable group games remaining.

Finland piled more misery on 2004 champions Greece with a 1-0 win in Piraeus which leaves the Greeks bottom of the group.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport