Northern Ireland boosted their chances of a spot in the World Cup with one of the convincing football scores of the weekend. They survived a second-half comeback from Lithuania to run out 4-1 winners in the end. The team produced a superb performance despite a number of their players missing.
Dan Ballard scored the opener in the 20th minute from a cross by Conor Washington. They were then awarded a penalty for a handball with Washington scoring in the 52nd minute. Lithuania responded immediately with a superb curling effort from Rolandas Baravykas. It looked as if a comeback was on the cards when the hosts were awarded a penalty. Bailey Peacock-Farrell saved the penalty before Shayne Lavery and Paddy McNair put the game beyond reach.
Lithuania: Setkus (6), Baravykas (6), Utkus (4), Satkus (5), Slavickas (5), Verbickas (5), Megelaitis (5), Novikovas (5), Cernych (5), Lasickas (6), Dubickas (4).
Subs used: Barauskas (5), Kazlauskas (5), Jankauskas (5), Uzela (5).
Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell (6), McNair (7), Cathcart (6), Ballard (7), Smith (7), Davis (7), McCann (6), Thompson (7), Lewis (6), Lavery (7), Washington (7).
Subs used: Jones (n/a), Lafferty (n/a), McCalmont (n/a), Flanagan (n/a).
Man of the match: Conor Washington.
“I said to the boys ‘you’ve got to come of age tonight’ and they’ve stepped up to the plate. They’ve taken their chances, there was a shaky five minutes in the first half, a shaky five minutes in the second half and then we managed the game very well.” Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough said. “For young players to go and do that among the senior boys, I thought it was a magnificent performance. It’s a tough place to come, and we’ve come here, played some really good stuff, controlled the majority of the game, created chances, it could’ve been more. But we’ll take the four.”
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