Northern Ireland collapsed spectacularly in the second half in one of the surprising football results of World Cup qualifying. The visitors put up a scintillating performance in the first half and should have scored more than the solitary goal. Conor Washington turned home the rebound from a Josh Magennis header in the first half. Any result apart from a win would leave no chance of qualification. A second-half performance ensured that when Ilian Iliev crossed for Todor Nedelev. He then scored the winner with a brilliant curling effort from 20 yards out.

Managers Reaction

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough: “It was a game we dominated the first half, we created a good few chances and didn’t take them, apart from the goal. We came in at half-time and talked about getting the intensity up again, getting the ball moving, getting a foothold in the game again.” he added. “They’ll have a spell where they’ll come at us, and we have to deal with it, make sure we’re winning second balls, all the little skirmishes in the game, and for a 20-minute spell in the second half, that stopped happening.”

“That second half was abysmal,” former Northern Ireland player Neil Lennon said. “First half, Bulgaria looked like the worst team in the group by far. We had three great chances and then scored. It could have been two or three at half-time, they came out for the second half and were totally passive. They invited Bulgaria onto them, and the game management in the second half was pathetic.”

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