Wednesday 16 October 2019

McNair maintains North's perfect start

Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair scores the winning goal against Belarus. Photo: PA
Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair scores the winning goal against Belarus. Photo: PA

Paddy McNair's first international goal saw Northern Ireland snatch a 1-0 win over Belarus and make it four wins out of four in Euro 2020 qualifying.

A late night in Borisov looked like ending in frustration for Michael O'Neill's men as they toiled in humid conditions, but with four minutes left McNair found the breakthrough.

The Middlesbrough midfielder took the ball from Jordan Jones on the left, skipped over the challenge of Sergei Kisylak, and struck a low shot under the diving Aleksandr Gutor.

The goal sparked wild celebrations from the Northern Ireland players who had repeated the mantra of targeting 12 points.

Elsewhere, Scotland were handed a harsh lesson with a 3-0 defeat by Belgium at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

Steve Clarke's side defended with a mixture of diligence and desperation only for all the good work to be undone just before half-time when a lapse of concentration ended with striker Romelu Lukaku heading in a cross from skipper Eden Hazard.

The Manchester United striker added a second in the 57th minute and Steve Clarke's side had to work hard to prevent further damage before Kevin De Bruyne added a third in the final minute.

Wales suffered a hurtful Euro 2020 qualifying defeat as Group E leaders Hungary beat them 1-0 in Budapest.

Mate Patkai drove home the winner 10 minutes from time after Wales - 32 places above Hungary in the world rankings - had failed to clear the ball in their own penalty area.

It was a second defeat for Ryan Giggs' side in the space of four days.

Irish Independent

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