Sport Soccer

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Tosic strike sinks North

European championship round-up

Northern Ireland'S qualification hopes took a huge blow last night as they were overhauled by Serbia and went down 2-1 at a near-empty Crvena Zvezda Stadium in Belgrade.

Serbia were ordered to play the game behind closed doors following the disturbance caused by their fans in Italy last year, and the only supporters in attendance were a 250-strong visiting contingent.

Gareth McAuley gave Northern Ireland the lead five minutes before the interval, with a looping header from Chris Brunt's free-kick.

Kyle Lafferty missed a good chance moments later, and Serbia, invigorated by the half-time introduction of Liverpool's Milan Jovanovic, equalised through Marko Pantelic on 65 minutes.

Lee Camp denied them with a superb save in the 53rd minute but was helpless midway through the half when Pantelic drilled in the equaliser after a flowing move.

The Serbs continued to pile on the pressure and Manchester United reject Zoran Tosic rifled in the 74th-minute winner with a first-time shot from the edge of the area.

Robin van Persie scored one goal and set up another as the Netherlands routed Hungary 4-0 in Budapest. Rafael van der Vaart, Ibrahim Afellay and Dirk Kuyt also netted.

Brazilian-born midfielder Thiago Motta got the only goal of the game as Italy won 1-0 in Slovenia, while France laboured to a 2-0 win in Luxembourg.

Irish Independent

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