European Championship Qualifying - Group F
Northern Ireland2Finland1

Euro 2016 qualifiers: Northern Ireland 2-1 Finland

Kyle Lafferty
Kyle Lafferty took his tally to five goals in his last five international matches
  • NI stay one point behind Romania at top of Group F
  • Lafferty makes it five goals in five Euro qualifiers
  • NI play their 600th competitive game
  • Romania next up in Belfast on 13 June

Kyle Lafferty scored both goals as Northern Ireland beat Finland to boost their chances of a first major finals appearance since the 1986 World Cup.

With four wins from five games, they trail Romania by a point at the top of Euro 2016 Qualifying Group F.

Lafferty scored with a right-foot volley and then made it five goals from five qualifiers with a guided header.

Berat Sadik grabbed a late consolation for the Finns after Roy Carroll spilled Roman Eremonko's initial drive.

Michael O'Neill's side are four points clear in the second automatic qualification place after Hungary were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Greece.

Group leaders Romania, Northern Ireland's only conquerors to date, visit Belfast on 13 June.

Lafferty's two goals have taken his total in qualifying to five - joint-second with Germany's Thomas Muller and Israel's Omar Damari, and one behind Danny Welbeck of England.

The striker's form for his country contrasts with a tough season at club level, having been sent out on loan to Turkish side Caykur Rizespor in February after struggling at Championship side Norwich City.

Northern Ireland boss O'Neill made a major selection call by leaving out Brighton defender Aaron Hughes, with the 35-year-old primed to overtake David Healy as his country's most capped outfield player.

The match pitted the Northern Ireland boss against a familiar figure as his Finnish counterpart, Mixu Paatelainen, was the man who gave him his coaching break as his number two at Scottish club Cowdenbeath.

Northern Ireland's remaining Euro 2016 Group F qualifiers
Romania (home)Saturday, 13 June 2015
Faroe Islands (away)Friday, 4 September 2015
Hungary (home)Monday, 7 September 2015
Greece (home)Thursday, 8 October 2015
Finland (away)Sunday, 11 October 2015

And Paatelainen's side did not look like a team ranked 35 places behind their hosts as a bright start saw Teemu Pukki's drive force Carroll into a fine save at his near post.

Chris Baird's impressive header from Chris Brunt's delivery was disallowed for offside and Jamie Ward then found himself through on goal but his right-foot shot was well saved by Lukas Hradecky.

The home support did not have to wait long for a goal, as Lafferty continued his remarkable international scoring run with a clinical finish after latching onto a header from Niall McGinn.

The striker then brought his overall tally in the green shirt to 14 by directing a header into the bottom right-hand corner from Conor McLaughlin's precision right-wing cross.

The Finns' failure to score in the opening period meant Northern Ireland have gone nine games without conceding a goal in the first half.

The hosts began the second half in enterprising fashion and Niall McGinn squandered a good opportunity to extend his side's advantage when he skewed the ball over the bar after getting on the end of Jamie Ward's mis-directed shot.

Finland substitute Joel Pohjanpalo fired wide from three yards, before Sadik made it a nervy finish for the home side by blasting home in added time.

The result ends any realistic hope of Finland making the finals in France, but Northern Ireland, who have never made the final stages of the European Championship, remain on course to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their appearance in Mexico with a spot in the final 24 next summer.

Chris Baird
Chris Baird had the ball in the net early on but the flag was up for offside
Niklas Moisander attempts to clear the danger as Kyle Lafferty prepares to pounce
Niklas Moisander attempts to clear the danger as Kyle Lafferty prepares to pounce
Kyle Lafferty was named man of the match
Man-of-the-match Kyle Lafferty has scored in each of his last three games against Finland

Line-ups

Northern Ireland

  • 1Carroll
  • 2McLaughlin
  • 4McAuley
  • 5Evans
  • 11BruntBooked at 67mins
  • 8DavisSubstituted forEvansat 45'minutes
  • 6BairdBooked at 63mins
  • 16Norwood
  • 19Ward
  • 10LaffertySubstituted forMagennisat 79'minutes
  • 7McGinnSubstituted forDallasat 64'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Lafferty
  • 9Mckay
  • 12Mannus
  • 13Evans
  • 14Dallas
  • 15McCourt
  • 17McNair
  • 18Hughes
  • 20McCullough
  • 21Magennis
  • 22Grigg
  • 23McGovern

Finland

  • 12Hradecky
  • 2Sorsa
  • 4ToivioSubstituted forArajuuriat 45'minutesBooked at 78mins
  • 3Moisander
  • 18Uronen
  • 16Mattila
  • 14Sparv
  • 21HämäläinenSubstituted forPohjanpaloat 42'minutesBooked at 70mins
  • 7Alekseevich Eremenko
  • 10PukkiSubstituted forSadikat 70'minutes
  • 19Ring

Substitutes

  • 1Mäenpää
  • 5Moren
  • 6Schüller
  • 8Lod
  • 9Sadik
  • 11Riski
  • 13Raitala
  • 15Lam
  • 17Kauko
  • 20Pohjanpalo
  • 22Arajuuri
  • 23Moisander
Referee:
Szymon Marciniak

Match Stats

Home TeamNorthern IrelandAway TeamFinland
Possession
Home39%
Away61%
Shots
Home12
Away12
Shots on Target
Home6
Away5
Corners
Home7
Away7
Fouls
Home8
Away8

Live Text

Match ends, Northern Ireland 2, Finland 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Northern Ireland 2, Finland 1.

Corner, Finland. Conceded by Oliver Norwood.

Attempt blocked. Sakari Mattila (Finland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Berat Sadik (Finland) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Paulus Arajuuri with a headed pass.

Goal!

Goal! Northern Ireland 2, Finland 1. Berat Sadik (Finland) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner.

Attempt saved. Roman Eremenko (Finland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. Roman Eremenko (Finland) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Alexander Ring.

Foul by Alexander Ring (Finland).

Corry Evans (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Sakari Mattila (Finland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland).

Offside, Northern Ireland. Stuart Dallas tries a through ball, but Oliver Norwood is caught offside.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Paulus Arajuuri.

Foul by Tim Sparv (Finland).

Corry Evans (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Sakari Mattila.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Josh Magennis replaces Kyle Lafferty because of an injury.

Booking

Paulus Arajuuri (Finland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Paulus Arajuuri (Finland).

Stuart Dallas (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland) because of an injury.

Attempt blocked. Jamie Ward (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Oliver Norwood.

Attempt blocked. Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Stuart Dallas.

Substitution

Substitution, Finland. Berat Sadik replaces Teemu Pukki.

Booking

Joel Pohjanpalo (Finland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Joel Pohjanpalo (Finland).

Gareth McAuley (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Roman Eremenko (Finland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland).

Booking

Chris Brunt (Northern Ireland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Joel Pohjanpalo (Finland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Chris Brunt (Northern Ireland).

Roman Eremenko (Finland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jamie Ward (Northern Ireland).

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Stuart Dallas replaces Niall McGinn.

Attempt missed. Niklas Moisander (Finland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a set piece situation.

Booking

Chris Baird (Northern Ireland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Sakari Mattila (Finland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

goal

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Sunday 29th March 2015

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Czech Rep5410116513
2Iceland54011221012
3Netherlands521211657
4Turkey512268-25
5Latvia5032211-93
6Kazakhstan5014413-91

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Wales532072511
2Israel43019549
3Belgium4220121118
4Cyprus5203910-16
5Bos-Herze512256-15
6Andorra5005220-180

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Slovakia5500112915
2Spain54011431112
3Ukraine53026249
4Belarus5113410-64
5Macedonia5104512-73
6Luxembourg5014314-111

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Poland53201631311
2Germany531194510
3Scotland5311115610
4R. of Ireland522111478
5Georgia510449-53
6Gibraltar5005127-260

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England55001511415
2Slovenia530210469
3Switzerland530211389
4Lithuania5203310-76
5Estonia511315-44
6San Marino5014017-171

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Romania541071613
2Northern Ireland540184412
3Hungary52214318
4Finland511357-24
5Faroe Islands510427-53
6Greece502315-42

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Austria5410102813
2Sweden52307349
3Russia41216335
4Montenegro41213215
5Liechtenstein5113111-104
6Moldova501428-61

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Croatia54101521313
2Italy532084411
3Norway530278-19
4Bulgaria512267-15
5Azerbaijan5104411-73
6Malta501419-81

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Portugal43014229
2Denmark42116427
3Albania421145-17
4Serbia41126601
5Armenia401336-31
View full European Championship Qualifying tables

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