Euro 2016: NI qualification would be 'magnificent achievement'

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Northern Ireland react after their 3-1 win over the Faroe Islands.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill says it would be "a magnificent achievement" for his side to earn qualification for the European Championship in France next summer.

Friday's 3-1 victory over Faroe Islands in Torshavn means Northern Ireland will book their spot for Euro 2016 if they beat Hungary in Belfast on Monday.

The last time Northern Ireland qualified for a major tournament was in 1986, for the World Cup in Mexico.

"It is long overdue," O'Neill said.

"This group has really developed over the past couple of years and it would be a magnificent achievement. The prize is so great that the players' response has been just superb."

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Michael O'Neill's side top Group F with 16 points from seven games

Two goals from West Brom defender Gareth McAuley and a third from Norwich striker Kyle Lafferty earned O'Neill's side victory against the Faroes, who had their goalscorer Joan Simun Edmundsson sent off in the second half.

McAuley told BBC Sport: "The last time we were here we came away with a draw [1-1 in 2010] and it has rankled with me ever since.

"With the hurt from that, and the number of players from then involved again tonight, we wanted to make sure we came away with the points.

"It is nice to get the goals and it will be a night I remember for a long time but it doesn't matter how we won the game.

"We still need to get that win and, as much as we would like to, we can't celebrate yet as we need to be on it on Monday night. The belief is there."

Group F

O'Neill added: "It's a great scenario to be playing for qualification in our home stadium. The pleasing aspect of it is we do have a little bit of a safety net there as well. A lot of people talked about this as a must win and a pivotal game - it really isn't.

"We can go into that game and do everything possible to win that group. We're top and I just think the players will respond.

"This is the game that was going to be the nervous game. The next game, I think they'll handle it. I look at the intensity of the team, right through the team, there wasn't a player that didn't perform.

"We just have to continue that. The effects of the game and the fatigue element of it, I don't think they will be a factor given what's at stake."

Elsewhere in Group F, Hungary drew 0-0 at home to Romania, meaning new leaders Northern Ireland are virtually assured of at least third place and a play-off spot.

After playing Hungary (19:45 BST kick-off on Monday), Northern Ireland host Greece on 8 October before playing away to Finland three days later.

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