Northern Ireland 1-0 Lithuania: Ian Baraclough’s team ends long wait for victory at home as own goal defeats Lithuania
- Northern Ireland beat Lithuania 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier at home on Friday
- Benas Satkus’ own goal in the first one was enough for the locals
- Northern Ireland had no chance of qualifying for the tournament before kickoff
- Northern Ireland faces Italy, who need a win to secure first place, in the final match
Northern Ireland claimed their first competitive win at Windsor Park in two and a half years when they beat Lithuania 1-0 on Friday night.
After hopes of the World Cup ran out last month, this was a much more brilliant performance from Ian Baraclough’s men in their penultimate qualifying match, but the old problems in front of goal persisted as, at Despite the Northern Ireland game, only Benas Satkus’ own goal in the 18th minute separated the sides.
The victory moves Baraclough’s men back to third place in Group C, ahead of Bulgaria, who will face Switzerland in their last meeting on Monday when Northern Ireland take on Italy.
Northern Ireland players celebrate Benas Satkus’ own goal, which was enough for the victory
Northern Ireland Paddy McNair makes a run through Lithuania’s defense
This was Northern Ireland’s first competitive win here since they beat Belarus 2-1 in qualifying for Euro 2020 in March 2019, and the first of any kind since a 1-0 win over Luxembourg the following September. , both under the direction of Michael O’Neill.
Baraclough needed an answer after the October window brought disappointment to see his World Cup hopes terminated by the Swiss compounded by a bad defeat in Bulgaria, and he got it in the first 45 minutes.
Strengthened by the return of Jonny Evans, Stuart Dallas and Ali McCann to the starting lineup, the hosts looked faster and sharper as they dominated the first half.
Shane Ferguson, favored by Jamal Lewis on the left, threw a series of dangerous balls, one of which Ernestas Setkus deflected unconvincingly before Josh Magennis’ header narrowly missed the other.
Steven Davis, who won his 131st international game, combined well with Dallas and McCann in a sweeping move that saw McCann square the ball for Conor Washington, but his first shot was well saved by the Lithuanian goalkeeper.
The two teams commemorated Armistice Day before the start of qualifying for the World Cup.
The payoff came in the 18th minute when Satkus took the wrong angle trying to defend Paddy McNair’s turning corner and headed back towards his own net.
Moments later, McCann thought he had his first competitive goal for Northern Ireland, but his goal was ruled out with Magennis offside as he was deemed to have blocked Setkus’s view.
Lithuania tried to put together a response, threatening when Justas Lasickas ran towards Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who blocked the shot but saw the ball bounce off Lasickas before deflecting harmlessly.
It was the visitors’ only goal in the first half, while Northern Ireland had the ball in the net for the third time four minutes before half-time, but Magennis’s header was ruled out to push Ovidijus Verbickas away.
The Hull forward came close again in the final minute of the half, landing a good save from Setkus with a first-time shot and then trying to deflect the ball towards Satkus from a sharp angle as the defender rushed to punt.
The start of the second half was slower as Lithuania edged Northern Ireland on set pieces.
Magennis remained a live wire and threatened at the hour mark as he tried to catch the goalkeeper with a cross shot, but Northern Ireland was missing a spark, on the back foot again when Arvydas Novikovas twisted to make room for a shot . which eventually went straight to Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Baraclough responded by sending Lewis and Corry Evans with 20 minutes to go and then, with 13 minutes remaining, he gave the thrilling 17-year-old Dale Taylor his debut in place of Magennis.
The Nottingham Forest striker went straight into the action when he won a corner for his team that Washington gave a narrow nod.
But it would be Northern Ireland’s last goal and there was a belated concern when McNair grabbed his hamstring, even though he watched the game.