Northern Ireland senior women made it back-to-back wins thanks to a 1-0 victory away to Belarus in a UEFA Women's Euro qualifier.
Kenny Shiels’ side had to play the majority of Tuesday evening's match with 10 players after ‘keeper Jackie Burns saw red - but it was swiftly followed by a moment of magic from Rachel Furness who netted the only goal of the game to claim a precious three points in Minsk.
Victory at the Dinamo Stadion moves Northern Ireland up to third in Group C, meaning they still have one eye on a potential play-off place for a coveted spot at the finals in England in 2022.
Furness’s goal – a bullet header and her third goal on the international stage in 2020 – arrived three minutes before the break and could not have come at a better time for Northern Ireland who had to readjust on 27 minutes when Burns received her marching orders a foul on Shcherbachenia.
🎥 That goal from @Furney1988 🙌🏻 #GAWA @ElecIrelandNI #GameChangersNI pic.twitter.com/8aVdEfOHTl— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) October 27, 2020
On came replacement stopper Becky Flaherty with goal threat Kirsty McGuinness making way and it looked like it may have been a long night for the girls in white. But up stepped Furness who rose above Shuppo to fire home Demi Vance’s pinpoint corner.
Chances were few and far between in the second session with Shiels opting to strengthen the midfield by introducing the experienced Marissa Callaghan around the hour mark in place of the industrious Nadene Caldwell.
Midway through the second half it was Furness who came close yet again when she rattled the crossbar with a cracking left-footed shot having been played in thanks to an intelligent pass from Simone Magill.
Northern Ireland controlled large swathes of the second half but there was a late scare when Shuppo found space in the box only to angle her right-footed effort wide of the far post.
Minutes later Spanish referee Zulema Gonzalez blew the final whistle and there were jubilant scenes as Northern Ireland claimed another vital three points.
Next up for the senior women it’s Belarus in Belfast (27 November) before hosting Faroe Islands on 1 December.
Belarus: Miklashevich, Linnik, Shcherbachenia (c) (Shlapakova 84), Novikova, Kazakevich (Krasnova 85), Kozyupa, Slesarchik, Kharlanova (Pobegaylo 59, Stezhko 88’), Olkhovik, Shuppo, Pilipenko.
Subs not used: Kovalchuk (GK), Svidunovich (GK), Dudko, Sas, Bohdan, Nikolaenko, Karachun, Kubichnaya.
Northern Ireland: Burns, Vance, Nelson, Hutton (Magee 45), McFadden (c), McCarron, Furness, Caldwell (Callaghan 57), K. McGuinness (Flaherty 28), Magill, Wade (C. McGuinness 90).
Subs not used: Perry (GK), Burrows, Johnson, Kelly, Andrews , Maxwell.
Referee: Zulema Gonzalez (ESP)