Wednesday 19 June 2019

Paddy McNair goal enough to ensure Northern Ireland go into summer break with 100% record intact

Belarus 0 Northern Ireland 1

Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair scores his side's winning goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying, Group C match at the Borisov Arena. Photo credit: Steven Paston/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair scores his side's winning goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying, Group C match at the Borisov Arena. Photo credit: Steven Paston/PA Wire.

Ian Parker

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 hot and 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 have repeated the mantra of targeting 12 points from their opening four fixtures and can now celebrate achieving it.

With half the group games gone, they have given themselves every chance of qualifying for a second consecutive European finals.

The victory piles pressure on Holland, who may have two games in hand but will head to Germany in September nine points behind Northern Ireland, who are sitting pretty at the top of the group.

It was another game where Northern Ireland had to dig deep before finding a late winner - just as they did in the reverse fixture in March, and in Saturdays' 2-1 win over Estonia.

That match was turned by substitutes Conor Washington, Josh Magennis and Jones, who were all brought into the starting line up three days later.

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