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Northern Ireland salvage late draw after Chris Baird picks up bizarre red card

Kyle Lafferty’s strike gave Windsor Park plenty to shout about.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Northern Ireland 1

Hungary 1

NORTHERN IRELAND BATTLED to a point at home to Hungary to keep themselves in pole position in their Euro 2016 qualifying group.

An error from goalkeeper Michael McGovern gifted Hungary a 74th minute lead through Richard Guzmics.

What followed made it seem like it just wasn’t to be the home side’s night in Belfast. Midfielder Chris Baird was handed two yellow cards in one sitting by referee Cüneyt Çakir.

Çakir played advantage for a foul by Baird in the 81st minute, but the Derby man was penalised again soon after. This time Baird’s foul did stop the play and Çakir opted to show the 33-year-old a yellow card for each offence in the same passage of play.

With time ticking away in Windsor Park Kyle Lafferty latched on to a stoppage time corner and blasted in the equaliser with his left foot.

Elsewhere tonight, Finland picked up a narrow 1 – 0 win at home to Faroe Islands while Romania were unable to capitalise on Northern Ireland’s dropped points as they played out a stalemate with Greece. Two points from meetings with Greece (home) and Finland (away) will now send Northern Ireland to their first Euros.

In Group I meanwhile, Portugal left it late but grabbed a priceless late goal away to Albania to extend their lead over Denmark who drew 0 – 0 in Armenia.

Portugal looked set to join them with a stalemate until Miguel Veloso struck in the 92nd minute to send them three points clear of Denmark with a game in hand.

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Sean Farrell

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