Northern Ireland qualifies for its first Euros
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) Northern Ireland qualified for its first European Championship on Thursday following a 3-1 win over Greece.
Goals from captain Steven Davis and Josh Magennis guarantees Michael O’Neill’s side a place in France in June.
”It’s a dream come true. We really wanted to get it done tonight and there is no better place than to do it in front of your home fans,” Davis said.
”It’s a huge achievement for the squad and the entire nation,” he added.
Davis opened the scoring from close range in the 35th minute following Stuart Dallas’ cross with Magennis doubling the hosts’ lead shortly after the interval.
Davis added a third in the 58th when he sent a header into the far corner following a corner to send Windsor Park into raptures. Hristos Aravidis netted a consolation for Greece with four minutes remaining.
The win moves Northern Ireland onto 20 points, three ahead of second-placed Romania following its 1-1 draw against Finland in Bucharest.
Romanian midfielder Ovidu Hoban scored in second-half stoppage time to secure a point after Joel Pohjanpalo had put the visitors ahead in the 66th minute.
Hungary came from behind to beat the Faroe Islands 2-1 in Budapest courtesy of two second-half goals from substitute Daniel Bode.
The home side got off to a poor start with Roaldur Jacobsen giving the minnows the lead in the 11th minute after escaping his marker and beating goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly inside the penalty area.
Bode came on in the second half and quickly made his mark, heading in a pass from Tamas Kadar on the left side in the 63rd minute.
Bode, a striker for Hungary’s Ferencvaros, scored again eight minutes later, beating Faroe Islands’ goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen after eluding several defenders.
That win secures at least a third-placed finish for the Hungarians, now on 16 points, one adrift of Romania.
”We’ve accomplished the minimum target we set for ourselves, which was to secure third place,” Kiraly said after the match.
”We had an exemplary performance.”