Football

Northern Ireland U21s Pull Off Stunning 2-1 Win Away To Spain

Northern Ireland U21s Pull Off Stunning 2-1 Win Away To Spain

Northern Ireland stunned Spain's U21s in a European Championships qualifier in Albacete on Tuesday night.

The North won the game 2-1 with both of their goals coming in the first eight minutes of the game.

Everton's Shayne Lavery raced away to open the scoring after four minutes. Liam Donnelly doubled that lead four minutes later from a penalty.

There was also a key moment just before half-time when Conor Hazard saved a penalty from Levante's Borja Mayoral. Spain's goal, scored by Las Palmas' Rafael Mir, did not arrive until injury time at the end of the game.

"The players in there will remember that for the rest of their lives," manager Ian Barraclough told BBC after the game.

Myself and the coaches will as well.

We've worked so hard to put ourselves in a position to get a result like that.

They've got some fantastic players, fantastic talents with individual skills but tonight we had the collective group of players that wanted to win so much. They put their bodies on the line.

The win moves Northern Ireland up to third in the table with two games to play. They are just a point behind Slovakia in second and still in with a chance of grabbing a playoff spot. Spain have already qualified for the finals.

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"We saw Spain at Portadown where they beat us 5-3 and they were bringing out players who had been transferred for €18m - €20m," senior boss Michael O'Neill told BBC regarding the U21 win.

"We had some young boys like Mark Sykes who's playing for Glenavon and played extremely well.

"We've worked hard at the domestic game. We want to see young players playing the domestic game coming to represent us at U21 level and if they do so, I genuinely believe that they can kick on and they can develop the way Liam Boyce, Gavin Whyte, Stuart Dallas have all developed, that has to be the aim for them all."

You can watch the goals below.

See Also: The Player Ratings As Ireland Steady The Ship With A Draw In Poland

PJ Browne
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