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Dublin: 8°C Saturday 24 October 2020

Northern Ireland strike late to maintain perfect start to Euros campaign in Belarus

Elsewhere tonight there were defeats for Scotland and Wales.

NORTHERN IRELAND LEFT it late to maintain their 100% start to Euro 2020 qualifying with a narrow 1-0 win over Belarus on Tuesday.

Belarus v Northern Ireland - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying - Group C - Borisov Arena Paddy McNair scored late to earn Michael O'Neill's side victory. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Michael O’Neill’s side won their first three Group C games – including a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture in March – but looked like they would be leaving the Borisov Arena with just a point after a disjointed display.

But, having secured a late turnaround to overcome Estonia at the weekend, they did the same again in Barysaw, Paddy McNair sparking wild celebrations among the travelling support with a fine finish four minutes from time.

The win means O’Neill’s men remain at the summit of their group, three points ahead of Germany, who have a game in hand.

Northern Ireland started in confident mood, with Conor Washington fizzing an effort agonisingly wide after four minutes.

Belarus soon grew into the game, though, denying the visitors any clear-cut chances and almost taking the lead themselves when Denis Polyakov’s left-wing cross floated just wide of Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s far post.

Northern Ireland did not register a shot on target until the 50th minute, Aleksandr Gutor keeping out Washington’s whipped effort from 20 yards.

Peacock-Farrell had to be alert 20 minutes from time to keep out Igor Stasevich’s low strike from 12 yards, while Gutor pawed away substitute George Saville’s drive at the other end.

Northern Ireland’s never-say-die attitude was on full display again in the closing stages, though, as McNair cut in from the left and drilled past Gutor to make it four wins from four for O’Neill’s side.

Hungary v Wales - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying - Group E - Groupama Arena Wales' Gareth Bale dejected after defeat tonight in Hungary. Source: Joe Giddens

Elsewhere tonight, Mate Patkai dealt Wales’ Euro 2020 qualification hopes a huge blow with a late winner for Hungary as Ryan Giggs’ men lost 1-0 in Budapest, just three days after suffering a narrow defeat in Croatia.

Patkai’s strike compounded a torrid evening for Gareth Bale after he missed Wales’ best opportunity of the game when Tom Lawrence’s cross landed at his feet 12 yards from goal, the Real Madrid forward firing tamely at Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

Giggs deployed Dan James as a lone striker in the first-half in Budapest and the 21-year-old outshone Bale with his incisive runs, but neither man could force a breakthrough before Patkai pounced on a loose ball after Jamie Lawrence and Ben Davies were outmuscled by Adam Szalai at a high ball.

The result leaves Wales second bottom in Group E with three points from three matches, while Hungary are top, three points clear of Slovakia, having won three of their opening four matches.

Belgium v Scotland - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying - Group I - King Baudouin Stadium Lukaku and De Buryne celebrate victory over Scotland this evening. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Romelu Lukaku continued his fine international form with a double as Belgium eased to a 3-0 win over Scotland in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Belgium have now won four out of four matches in Group I after a victory in Brussels on Tuesday that rarely looked in doubt.

The United forward scored once in each half to make it 25 international goals in his last 21 appearances and in truth he should quite conceivably have finished with four or five to his name.

Kevin De Bruyne sealed the win with a 20-yard strike in stoppage time as Steve Clarke suffered his first defeat as Scotland manager and his side now sit three points behind second-placed Russia.

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