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Tuesday 11 Jun 2024
Bradley double helps Northern Ireland to comfortable win

Conor Bradley scored both goals as Northern Ireland recovered from Saturday’s defeat to Spain by securing a 2-0 friendly win over Andorra in Murcia.

Bradley, playing in a more central role in midfield, capped a fine individual display with two first half goals for Michael O’Neill’s team at Estadio Nueva Condomina tonight.

Northern Ireland took the lead in the 16th minute thanks to a fine finish from Bradley after some fantastic work down the left flank by Callum Marshall, who was played in by Jamal Lewis.

Marshall wriggled past Marc Vales superbly before surging down the left and delivering an inviting low cross that was met at the near post by Bradley, who had got across his marker well, and he side-footed the ball home smartly from close range.

Northern Ireland doubled their lead six minutes later. Again it was Bradley who found the net and again it was from a dangerous low cross from the left.

This time it was Lewis with the delivery, picking up a clearance before angling in a cross that was deflected before finding Bradley, who stooped to score with a fine diving header.

Bradley was clearly enjoying his role in midfield, having played at right wing-back for most of his international career so far.

O’Neill made five changes to his starting line-up from the team that lost 5-1 to Spain in Saturday’s international challenge match in Mallorca, with Daniel Ballard taking the captain’s armband with fellow defender Jonny Evans missing.

Brodie Spencer and Ciaran Brown came into a back three in a 3-5-2 formation, with Corry Evans starting in midfield, Paul Smith selected at right wing-back and Callum Marshall starting up front.

Having done so well to set up Bradley’s opening goal, Marshall missed a gilt-edged opportunity to score himself when he miscued his strike at the back post from a Jamie Reid cross.

O’Neill’s men almost went three up in first half injury time but a long range curler from Lewis was saved well by Iker Alvarez, who dived to his left to palm the ball out for a corner.

Spencer nearly caught Alvarez out with a right-wing cross that the Andorran keeper had to react quickly to, in order to save at his near post, at the start of a second half that would later see defender Aaron Donnelly come off the bench to make his Northern Ireland debut.

Andorra threatened for the first time in the match when Adrian Da Cunha took advantage of sloppy play at the back from Northern Ireland to shoot from distance, but his effort flew well over the crossbar.

The lively Smith then played a neat one-two with Bradley to create space for himself down the right, however he overhit his cross and it flashed across the face of goal. Then substitute Dale Taylor forced a good save with a low drive from 20 yards.

With 15 minutes to play, Bradley opted to shoot from a tight angle as he went in search of his hat-trick, and Shea Charles went close with a header before a one-sided match finished 2-0 to Northern Ireland. It was a comfortable victory.

Northern Ireland: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Brodie Spencer, Jamal Lewis, Dan Ballard, Ciaran Brown, Conor Bradley, Paul Smyth, Corry Evans, Jamie Reid, Shea Charles, Callum Marshall.

Substitutes: (used) Dale Taylor, Ross McCausland, Caolan Boyd-Munce, Josh Magennis, Ethan Galbraith, Aaron Donnelly; (unused) Conor Hazard, Pierce Charles, Trai Hume, Eoin Toal, Conor McMenamin, Isaac Price, Jordan Thompson.

Andorra: Iker Alvarez, Joan Cervos, Marc Garcia, Max Llovera, Moises San Nicolas, Adrian Da Cunha, Marcio Vieira, Marc Rebes, Marc Vales, Izan Fernandez, Ricard Fernandez.

Substitutes: (used) Aaron Alburquerque, Joel Garcia, Joao Teixeira, Marc Pujol, Xisco Pires; (unused) Josep Gomez, Albert Rosas, Jesus Rubio, Ian Olivera, Jordi Rubio, Ot Remolins.