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Monday 02 Nov 2020
NI Player Watch | Liam Boyce fires Hearts to final

Hearts will meet Celtic in next month’s Scottish Cup Final after Liam Boyce’s penalty in extra-time gave them a 2-1 win over their fierce Edinburgh rivals Hibernian at the weekend. 

The 29-year-old, who scored the decisive spot-kick in the UEFA Euro 2020 play-off semi-final penalty-shoot-out in Sarajevo, repeated his heroics when he coolly converted just nine minutes from time to give the Jambos a shock victory over the Premiership side. 

“I was confident,” said Boyce. “I scored one in the league and obviously the Northern Ireland one was a high-pressure situation. 

“I actually missed three penalties in a row before that so to score - that gave me a lot of confidence. If I hit it clean and where I want it to go, it will be very hard for the keeper to save it.

“We know how much this game means in Edinburgh and hopefully the fans are all happy.”

Northern Ireland’s Niall McGinn and Matty Kennedy will not be joining international team-mates Boyce and Michael Smith for the Hampden showpiece after Aberdeen were beaten 2-0 in the other semi-final by Celtic on Sunday. 

In the Premier League in England, Jamal Lewis played the full 90 minutes for Newcastle United in their 2-1 home success against Everton while Bailey Peacock-Farrell was again an unused substitute as Burnley were soundly beaten 3-0 at home by Chelsea.

In the Championship, George Saville provided the assist for Middlesbrough’s winning goal at home to Nottingham Forest while boss Neil Warnock hailed Paddy McNair as the best player in the Championship on current form.  The former Manchester United player, who has been utilised as a central defender by Warnock this season, again produced a man-of-the-match performance as Boro’s win moved them into fifth in the table. 

“I just think his name is Paddy McNair-Nine now isn’t it? You dare not give him a 10.

“For me, he’s 10/10 every week - I think he’d walk it in the Premier League.” added Warnock. “I can’t see a better player in this division.”

Midfielder Jordan Thompson returned to the Stoke City side after a bout of concussion and Craig Cathcart and Corry Evans both started for their respective clubs, however, Shane Ferguson (Millwall) and Gavin Whyte (Cardiff City) were both unused substitutes. 

In League One, striker Paul Smyth came off the bench to set up Charlton Athletic’s second goal in the 2-0 win at Portsmouth with Callum Camps finding the net for the sixth time this season as Fleetwood Town overcame Oxford United 2-0 at the Highbury Stadium. 

There was disappointment for Everton Women’s striker Simone Magill as Manchester City lifted the FA Cup following a thrilling 3-1 extra time victory at Wembley on Sunday. 

Demi Vance though was celebrating after scoring for the second successive game as Rangers Women made it two wins from two with a single goal victory at Spartans in the Scottish Women’s Premier League. 

Speaking to Rangers TV after the game, the former Glentoran Women’s defender said: “It was a good to get a goal especially after coming back from international duty.

“I thought it was a good solid performance and we kept it nice and tight at the back and obviously got the clean sheet.”

Elsewhere, under-19 international Liam Smyth, who is on-loan at Braintree Town from League Two Stevenage, scored in Town’s 4-3 home defeat to Hemel Hempstead in the National League South while midfielder Cammy Palmer made his debut for Clyde at the weekend after joining them on a season-long loan deal from Rangers. 

Finally, it’s best wishes for a speedy recovery to Under-21 international Bobby Burns who sadly suffered a double-leg break while playing for Glentoran on Saturday.