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By Cameron Winstanley

Northern Ireland 1-2 Slovakia

Michal Duris Fires Slovakia Through

Second half substitute, Michal Duris, capitalised on tired Northern Ireland defending to send Slovakia through to only their second European Championships.

Slovakia edged out Northern Ireland in a feisty game at Windsor Park to see the visitors through to Euro 2020. It was the Omonia Nicosia midfielder, Duris, who’s 110th minute strike beat Bailey Peacock-Farrell at his near post from 20 yards out, not one the keeper would want to see again. Weary Northern Ireland defending created the chance with Tom Flanagan, being dragged out of position at the half-way line and Jonny Evans, unable to deal with the through ball.

Slovakia took the lead early in the first half through Juraj Kucka, who raced onto the end of a dreadful header from George Saville, inadvertly playing the Parma midfielder in. Jonny Evans was unable to catch up before Kucka, calmly slotted inside Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s near post. Northern Ireland drew level with just three minutes of normal time remaining as Milan Skriniar, who had been impeccable all evening up until then, turned in Paddy McNair’s, driven cross to send the game into extra time. Kyle Lafferty came within inches of winning it for The Green and White Army in added time as his whipping shot from the edge of the box struck the outside of Rodak’s post. Jonny Evans’ tame header in the last minute of extra time was the only sight of goal Northern Ireland saw after falling behind in extra time.

After trailing early on, Northern Ireland reacted well with Marek Rodak, forced to tip over Niall McGinn’s cross, a string of inviting corners followed but eventually come to nothing. Northern Ireland started off the second the way they ended the first, energetic and brave football with, George Saville, hitting wide from 25 yards before McGinn’s tenacious work won back possession to feed Conor Washington, with the Charlton forward’s shot straight at Rodak after a poor touch.

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July 2024