Ballard strikes late to keep alive Northern Ireland U21’s Euro hopes

Ballard strikes late to keep alive Northern Ireland U21’s Euro hopes

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Arsenal defender Ballard struck late to give NI U21s victory

A last-gasp Daniel Ballard goal earned Northern Ireland Under-21s a 1-0 win over Iceland and kept their slim hopes of qualification for next year’s European Championship finals alive.

Ballard scored in the 90th minute of Thursday’s qualifier in Reykjavik, with Jamie McDonagh providing the assist.

NI must also beat Slovakia in their final qualifier in Belfast on Tuesday to have a chance of qualifying.

Four of the nine group runners-up will progress to the play-offs.

Spain have won Group Two, but Thursday’s win for Ian Baraclough’s side moved them into second place, two points above Slovakia, who have a match in hand.

The 12-team finals tournament will be staged in June 2019, with Spain, France and hosts Italy assured of their places.

European Under-21 qualifying tables

Last month Northern Ireland boosted their prospects with a superb 2-1 win in Alicante, which ended Spain’s 100% record in the qualifying campaign – although the home side were already through to the finals.

Iceland had the better of the first-half chances with Conor Hazard blocking an Ottar Magnus Karlsson shot and Arnor Sigurdsson missing the target.

Kristofer Kristinsson had an effort on goal in the second half, with Liam Donnelly, Shayne Lavery and Pierce Bird unable to convert scoring opportunities for the visitors before Arsenal defender Ballard grabbed the late winner.

Soccer News

via BBC Sport – Football https://ift.tt/OHg7x6

October 11, 2018 at 12:24PM

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