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Friday 22 Mar 2024
Youthful Northern Ireland secure draw against Romania

An energetic Northern Ireland produced an excellent performance to draw 1-1 with Euros-bound Romania in Bucharest tonight.

Striker Jamie Reid scored on his debut as Northern Ireland proved to be worthy opponents for Romania, who are bound for UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany after topping their qualifying group back in the autumn.

It was an encouraging performance from a youthful Northern Ireland. O’Neill’s team were full of running and showed plenty of skill, desire and commitment.

Romania, who were unbeaten in 10 games going in to the international challenge match, sprayed the ball around smartly but the visitors did likewise.

Up to 300 Northern Ireland fans cheered on the boys in vivid green and white at the 55,000-capacity Arena Nationala.

And Northern Ireland stunned the 30,000 Romanian fans inside the stadium when they took the lead in the seventh minute.

Conor Bradley sped down the right flank and fed Shea Charles who slipped the ball to debutant Reid and he clipped the ball home off the underside of the bar from eight yards. It was a smart finish.

Four minutes later Bradley produced another lung-busting run into the opposition box and it took two defenders and Romanian goalkeeper Florin Nita to thwart him.

Romania levelled on 23 minutes. Attacking midfielder Dennis Man outwitted Eoin Toal and Brodie Spencer inside the area after getting on the end of a long pass and blasted the ball home from 10 yards. Goalkeeper Conor Hazard got his gloves to Man’s shot but he could not prevent it from hitting the back of the net. It was Romania’s first shot on target.

After that Bradley and Isaac Price linked up well down the right flank, however the Romanian defence managed to keep them at bay.

Man let fly inside the box once again, however his powerful goal-bound shot hit his teammate George Puscas and the ball was cleared by the Northern Ireland defence.

On the stroke of half-time Spencer produced a superb covering tackle to nick the ball away from Vasile Mogos after he controlled a long pass inside the area and was about to pull the trigger.

Romania had the first opportunity of the second half, however substitute keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell comfortably gathered a low drive from Razvan Marin.

Spencer produced another fine tackle to dispossess Man as he threatened once again before a deflected Alexandru Cicaldau shot dipped over the crossbar.

Down the other end Spencer attempted a shot from the edge of the penalty area but his effort was blocked.

Skipper Paddy McNair, who was steady throughout at the back alongside Toal and Trai Hume, had to be on his toes to head away a dangerous cross from Romania captain Nicolae Stanciu.

On 79 minutes substitute Josh Magennis teed up McNair inside the Romanian area but his low drive was gathered in neatly by Nita.

Five minutes later Romania substitute Ianis Hagi fired a shot straight into Peacock-Farrell’s arms.

Romania applied pressure towards the end, however they were unable to breach the Northern Ireland backline.

Romania: Florin Nita, Vasile Mogos, Cristian Manea, Andrei Burca, Radu Dragusin, Razvan Marin, Dennis Man, Alexandru Cicaldau, George Puscas, Nicolae Stanciu (captain), Florinel Coman.

Substitutes: Horatiu Moldovan, Stefan Tarnovanu, Andrei Ratiu, Adrian Sut, Marius Marin, Denis Alibec, Florin Tanase, Valentin Mihaila, Ianis Hagi, Adrian Rus, Denis Dragus, Olimpiu Morutan, Deian Sorescu, Darius Olaru, Bogdan Racovitan.

Northern Ireland: Conor Hazard, Conor Bradley, Trai Hume, Paddy McNair (captain), Eoin Toal, Brodie Spencer, Shea Charles, Jordan Thompson, Jamie Reid, Isaac Price, Paddy Lane.

Substitutes: (used) Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Conor McMenamin, Alistair McCann, Josh Magennis; (unused) Luke Southwood, Aaron Donnelly, Callum Marshall, Shayne Lavery, Paul Smyth, Caolan Boyd-Munce, Ciaron Brown.