Josh Magennis the hero as Northern Ireland beat Belarus in Belfast


Sunday, 24th March 2019, 9:39 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th March 2019, 9:51 pm
Northern Ireland against Belarus
Northern Ireland against Belarus

Josh Magennis was the hero as his 87th minute winner gave Northern Ireland a vital 2-1 Euro 2020 qualifier victory against Belarus in Belfast.

The substitute latched onto a Stuart Dallas ball to fire the winner after Ni had taken the lead through a Jonny Evans header before Igor Stasevich had equalised for the visitors.

It means Ni take maximum points from their opening two group games as they try to make it through to another Euro Finals.

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The game also marked captain Steve Davis' 75th cap for his country and what an international career he has had.

And Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill named the same starting eleven that had beaten Estonia 2-0 on Thursday night as he looks to make it two wins out of two at the start of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

The game was only three minutes old and Polish referee Pawel Raczkowski seems to have taken a dislike to Kyle Lafferty as he has twice penalised the Rangers player for challenging in the air.

The visitors had started brightly and former Arsenal and Barcelona ace Aleksandr Hleb might be in the twilight of his career but his on pitch intelligence and class was on display in the opening exchanges.

The match came to life in the 20th minute as Paddy McNair unleashed a shot from the edge of the box that was pushed away by Belarus goalkeeper Andrei Kilmovich. A good save from the visiting keeper.

As the game reached the 28 minute mark Belarus were gaining in confidence and the home side needed to get in front sooner rather than later.

Lafferty tried his luck in the 29th minute. His shot from the left being pushed away by keeper Klimovich at the last minute.

The keeper however could do nothing as Jonny Evans finished from the resulting corner and the home side were 1-0 ahead on 30 minutes. It was the goal NI needed and hopefully this would calm their nerves and they could take control of the encounter.

Sadly that was not the case and it was 1-1 in the 33rd minute as a deflected effort from Igor Stasevich flew over a startled Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the NI goal and the visitors were right back in the match.

George Saville then had a great chance two minutes later but his effort was bundled away from danger and the chance was lost.

Jordan Jones then went on a run in the 39th minute. He made ground before whipping in a cross that no-one could get on the end of.

Two minutes before the break Niall McGinn drifted in from the right flank but his left foot shot flew off target.

The second started at as great pace and Lafferty had a great chance early on but the flag was raised for off-side.

Belarus were now content to slow the game down but Davis and Saville were trying their best to inject pace into the game when they got the chance.

McNair then had a shot blocked in the 60th minute as the home side cranked up the pressure and Saville blasted one high and wide shortly afterwards.

The game had died a bit but the home side kept pushing for that second goal and Dallas went on a run that came to nothing.

In the 77th minute Lafferty was inches away from connecting from a corner but the Rangers striker just failed to make contact.

The home side huffed and puffed and it looked as if they would not make the breakthrough but up stepped substitute Josh Magennis in the 87th minute to make it 2-1 from a Dallas pass and the place went wild.

The visitors piled on the pressure in the closing minutes but Northern Ireland held out for the win.

Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell, Lewis, Evans, Saville, McGinn (Magennis 67mins), Davis, Lafferty (Boyce 78mins), Dallas, Jones (Ferguson 85mins), McNair, Cathcart.

Subs not used: McGovern, Hazard, McLaughlin, McAuley, Flanagan, Hughes, Washington, Smyth.

Belarus: Klimovich, Dragun, Martynovich, Shitov (Polyakov 73mins), Savitski, Laptev, Hleb (Putilo 66mins), Sivakov, Maevski, Volodko, Stasevich.

Subs not used: Chichkan, Gorbunov, Rios, Kovalev, Saroka, Signevich, Kislyak, Kendysh, Volkov, Nekhaychik.

Referee: P Raczkowski (Poland)