Northern Ireland

@Glentoran

Glentoran GK scores 80-yard goal with help from counterpart (video)

Leave a comment

Goalkeeper goals, especially those coming from the other half off the field, often carry the rank smell of counterpart error.

That is certainly the case here.

[ WATCH: Schurrle masterpiece goal for Fulham ]

East Belfast club Glentoran got the goal on Saturday morning via a looooong ball from goalkeeper Elliott Morris.

Institute backstop Martin Gallagher back pedals, back pedals, back pedals… and lets the ball hit his gloves and roll into the goal.

Like Asmir Begovic and Artur Boruc a few years ago, we suspect Morris won’t be celebrating unless he really, really dislikes Gallagher.

 

UEFA Nations League: England reach finals; Belgium capitulate

Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in the UEFA Nations League…

[ MORE: USMNT injuries ahead of Italy friendly | Injuries for Italy, too ]

England 2-1 Croatia

The best rivalries in sports are the ones born out of contentious, high-stakes meetings on the field of play and the inevitable spill-over of words thereafter. Along those very lines, something of a rivalry is brewing between England and Croatia, and it’s all happened within a six-month period in 2018.

There was, of course, the two nations’ 2018 World Cup semifinal meeting in July, followed by the first of two rematches in the Nations League last month, and finally Sunday’s League A Group 4 finale. In between all of those on-field meetings, though, came the stoking of fires in the form of a verbal jab here and there.

Sunday’s clash at Wembley Stadium, which saw the Croats go ahead not long before the hour mark and appear destined for victory and the top spot in the group, only to watch their lead slip away in a late collapse, will only have added to the budding disdain between the two squads.

Andrej Kramaric put the visitors ahead int he 57th minute, but Jesse Lingard (78th) and Harry Kane (85th) brought the Three Lions back for a dramatic victory and pushed Gareth Southgate‘s to a first-place finish in the group. As such, England (7 points) joined Portugal in the final-four knockout stage.

Nearly as sweet for England, the result sends Croatia (4 points) bottom of the group, and they’ll be relegated to League B next time around.

Switzerland 5-2 Belgium

From 2-0 up, to an embarrassing 5-2 defeat, Sunday was certainly a day to forget — and an opportunity missed — for Belgium. A draw over victory against Switzerland would have seen the Red Devils finish top of League A Group 2, and they were in poll position for precisely that result after just 17 minutes, when they led 2-0 courtesy of Thorgan Hazard‘s early brace.

From that point forward, not a single thing went right for Roberto Martinez’s side as the home side score five unanswered goals from that point forward. It was 2-2 fewer than 15 minutes later — Ricardo Rodriguez and Haris Seferovic (penalty kick made it so — and Seferovic made it 3-2 just before halftime. There would be no galvanizing of the troops after the intermission, as Nico Elvedi scored his first international goal to make it 4-2 in the 62nd minute. Seferovic completed his hat trick, and the 5-2 scoreline, in the 84th.

In the end, it’s the Swiss who’ll join England and Portugal in the League A finals, by virtue of the second tiebreaker — goal differential in head-to-head matchups.

Elsewhere in UEFA Nations League

League B Group 3

Northern Ireland 1-2 Austria

League C Group 2

Hungary 2-0 Finland
Greece 0-1 Estonia

League D Group 2

San Marino 0-2 Belarus
Moldova 1-1 Luxembourg

Monday’s UEFA Nations League schedule

League A Group 1

Germany vs. Netherlands — 2:45 p.m. ET

League B Group 1

Czech Republic vs. Slovakia — 2:45 p.m. ET

League B Group 4

Denmark vs. Ireland — 2:45 p.m. ET

League C Group 3

Cyprus vs. Norway — 2:45 p.m. ET
Bulgaria vs. Slovakia — 2:45 p.m. ET

League D Group 1

Georgia vs. Kazakhstan — 12 p.m. ET
Andorra vs. Latvia — 12 p.m. ET

League D Group 4

Macedonia vs. Gibraltar — 2:45 p.m. ET
Liechtenstein vs. Armenia — 2:45 p.m. ET

VIDEO: Northern Irish player scores just after opening kickoff

Leave a comment

Did it even take 10 seconds?

Crusaders midfielder Matthew Snoddy scored with the fourth touch of the game as the Northern Irish champions beat Glentoran on Sunday.

[ MORE: MLS State of Play ]

Snoddy, 25, lets the ball settle down just a bit before rocketing his first touch of a headed pass off the goalkeepers’ hands and over the line.

Snoddy doesn’t score too often, with 13 goals in his previous 173 goals, making the feat even more notable.

Report: USMNT interested in Northern Ireland manager

Georgics Kefalas/Keystone via AP
Leave a comment

And an outsider emerges…

English commentator Ian Darke says the United States will talk to Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill regarding its vacant managerial spot.

Dave Sarachan is leading the USMNT for Tuesday’s friendly in Portugal, and the lack of competitive international fixtures for more than 600 days means U.S. Soccer needs not rush to find a boss.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose vs. Portugal ]

O’Neill, 48, was capped 31 times by Northern Ireland and played club for Newcastle United, Dundee United, Hibernian, and Wigan Athletic during a long and well-traveled playing career.

He managed Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers before taking the NI gig, leading the Norn Iron to an upset of Ukraine at EURO 2016 and a 1-0 knockout round loss to Wales. Northern Ireland finished second in its World Cup qualifying group, but lost an international playoff to highly-favored Switzerland 1-0 on an away goal (one that came from an awful penalty call).

That said, O’Neill still has limited experience in managing, and NI was blessed by favorable draws in EURO and World Cup qualifying. Marquee wins are few and far between, especially away from home, and NI does have some strong players in Steven Davis, Chris Brunt, Gareth McAuley, and Jonny Evans.

He also has a DUI in his background.

O’Neill might be a good choice, given his experience in rallying an underdog on the world stage. He’s certainly the right sort of guy to interview, so this is a promising sign. Most important in my book? He’s not Sam Allardyce.

Switzerland clinches World Cup berth

Twitter/@TelemundoSports
Leave a comment

The pitch was far from perfect on Sunday, but that didn’t for Switzerland.

[ MORE: Serie B coach goes on epic rant with Italy on verge of elimination ]

The Swiss became the 27th team to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia after settling for a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland at St Jakob-Park.

Chances were at a minimum throughout the match, but the visitors nearly forced the game into extra time when Jonny Evans‘ close-range effort forced a goal-line clearance out of the Swiss back line.

The hosts came out strong in the second half, with Ricardo Rodriguez testing No. Ireland keeper Michael McGovern immediately after the halftime break.

Xherdan Shaqiri was a menace down the wing throughout the first half for the Swiss, testing McGovern on several occasions as well.

The Northern Irish nearly broke the deadlock just two minutes into the match when Chris Brunt unleashed a powerful effort from distance.

Three more European spots will be up for grabs in the coming days as the WCQ cycle rounds out.