Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill praises striker Kyle Lafferty

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Kyle Lafferty claims winning goal

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has praised match winner Kyle Lafferty after what he described as "a difficult year" for the Norwich City striker.

Lafferty, who joined the Canaries from Palermo in July, bundled in a scrappy goal to give O'Neill's men a 2-1 win over Hungary.

"He will benefit from this. He has not had a great year and has played little football," said O'Neill.

"But I had a couple of conversations with him and they were very positive."

O'Neill pinpointed Lafferty's role in setting up Niall McGinn for Northern Ireland's equaliser as a key moment in their first Euro 2016 qualifying match.

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Michael O'Neill lauds match-winner Kyle Lafferty after he inspired Northern Ireland to a first away win in four years in Budapest.

"Sometimes you need a bit of individual play to get you back into matches and that is what happened," added O'Neill after only his second win as Northern Ireland boss in more than two-and-a-half years.

"Kyle did brilliantly and Niall was on hand to finish it off. From there the belief grew and we got a break when they went down to 10 men because their centre back was injured.

"We played very well and worked the second goal well. We would have been happy with a point so we are delighted with the three, but now we have to build on that."

Northern Ireland, whose victory was their first on their travels since beating Slovenia in 2010, entertain Faroe Islands on 11 October, before away matches in Greece on 14 October and Romania on 14 November.

"We have to maximise these three points by taking three against the Faroes in our next match," added O'Neill.

"After the Faroes we have two very difficult away games but we have to aim to be going into those with six points."

Lafferty now has 10 international goals to his name and O'Neill is hoping he can grow into the role of regular scorer - something Northern Ireland have been lacking since David Healy.

"We need a big campaign from Kyle now. He's started great and we need him to stay fit and keep producing," said O'Neill.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Sunday 7th September 2014

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