FOOTBALL: How the Northern Ireland players rated against Azerbaijan

The Northern Ireland team which started against Azerbaijan
The Northern Ireland team which started against Azerbaijan

Northern Ireland player ratings (v Azerbaijan)

MICHAEL McGOVERN: Dealt with the only attempt the hosts had on target and stood up tall to spook Ramil Sheydayev and Afran Ismayilov in one-on-one opportunities. 7 (out of 10)

CONOR McLAUGHLIN: One of the better performers on the night and his searching crosses deserved more. 7

AARON HUGHES: As dependable a figure as O’Neill has. At 37 he once again answered the call, initially in a three centre-back system, then in a two. 7

GARETH McAULEY: Declared fit after a thigh problem but was forced off with an issue midway through the first half when trying to catch Sheydayev. 5

JONNY EVANS: Solid at the back as ever but it was going forward, with his assist for Dallas, that proved his most important act of the night. 7

STUART DALLAS: The Leeds winger had never scored a competitive goal but kept a cool head when a chance came around. 8

CHRIS BRUNT: One first-half cross nearly produced a goal and he started strongly before slowly fading along with his team-mates. 7

OLIVER NORWOOD: As energetic as ever but tired to allow lively Azerbaijani debutant Richard Almeida to have more influence on the contest. 6

STEVEN DAVIS: Not one of the captain’s better nights and when he fails to shine, typically the whole team do too. 5

JOSH MAGENNIS: No one can fault Magennis’ effort but he looked like a player whose league season ended six weeks ago. 5

LIAM BOYCE: This was Boyce’s chance after a goal-laden season with Ross County and he struggled, though had little service in his defence. 5


NIALL McGINN: Had the ignominy of being subbed after coming on and was unable to get into the game. 5

KYLE LAFFERTY: So often Northern Ireland’s hero, he was not the man this time but had a part to play in the winner with his presence. 6

LEE HODSON. A late arrival to the game who was brought on to ensure the visitors saw out a 0-0 draw. 6