Brilliant Northern Ireland thump North Macedonia 11-0 in World Cup qualifier
Northern Ireland crushed North Macedonia 11-0 to record a record victory in yesterday’s World Cup qualifier in Skopje..
Kenny Shiels’ side are now level on 10 points with Austria in second place in Group D at the half-way point of the campaign, two points behind leaders England who play the Austrians in a top-two clash tomorrow.
With a reverse fixture against North Macedonia next up at a sold-out Seaview on Monday, Northern Ireland will be seeking to end an historic year on a high.
Yesterday, they took down their opponents with a ruthless display, setting a new benchmark as they surpassed their previous biggest victory against Taiwan in 2017, when they won 8-0.
Rachel Furness struck a hat-trick and is now level on 36 goals for her country with Northern Ireland legend David Healy.
It was also a day to remember for Simone Magill, who netted four of Northern Ireland’s 11 goals without reply, with Rebecca McKenna, Lauren Wade, Kirsty McGuinness and an injury-time strike by Rebecca Holloway completing the rout.
With Sheils’ message that he wanted a ‘statement’ performance ringing in their ears, Northern Ireland wasted no time in opening the scoring with Furness coolly slotting home from close range inside four minutes as she connected with an inviting cross from Demi Vance.
Rebecca McKenna then saw an effort scrambled off the line, but the right-back made amends soon after on 10 minutes to score her maiden international goal after, firing home after she was left with too much time in the area to double Northern Ireland’s advantage.
Magill grabbed her first to make it 3-0 when she latched onto a flick-on from Furness before beating North Macedonian keeper Magdalena Lekovska.
Furness seized her chance to get on the scoresheet again when the Liverpool midfielder was brought down in the box on 15 minutes.
She made no mistake from the penalty spot as Northern Ireland raced into an unassailable 4-0 lead inside the first quarter of an hour.
However, Furness spurned a golden chance to score a second penalty won by McGuinness, with the Lekovska saving her shot.
Wade added a fifth with an excellent strike from the edge of the box, while McGuinness hit North Macedonia for six, sending the ball past the keeper after a through-ball from Holloway.
A few minutes before half-time, the visitors were in seventh heaven when Magill bagged her second goal of the half.
Shiels made several changes at the break, with captain Callaghan replaced by Chloe McCarron, while Rachel McLaren made her debut after coming on for Julie Nelson, who had been booked.
Northern Ireland took their foot off the gas slightly in the second half until Furness sealed her hat-trick on 68 minutes, shooting home from close range.
Magill then claimed her third after punishing a poor goal kick to make it 9-0.
Northern Ireland’s 10th goal arrived when Magill lobbed Lekovska for her fourth of the match, and North Macedonia’s misery was compounded in injury-time when Holloway got in on the act, beating the keeper from close range to cap a dominant success for Northern Ireland.
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