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Bruising Slovakia battle sets Northern Ireland up for France adventure

Slovakia 0-0 Northern Ireland

By Paul Ferguson

Published 06/06/2016

Kyle Lafferty, Paddy McNair, Gareth McAuley, Michael McGovern, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Shane Ferguson, Oliver Norwood, Steven Davis, Jamie Ward, Chris Baird.
Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
Kyle Lafferty, Paddy McNair, Gareth McAuley, Michael McGovern, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Shane Ferguson, Oliver Norwood, Steven Davis, Jamie Ward, Chris Baird. Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes fans than you Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
Northern Ireland's Patrick McNair (right) and Slovakia's Dusan Svento battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty exchanges words with Slovakia's Martin Skrtel during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty shake hands during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty is spoken to by referee Radu Petrescu during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (rear) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Jan Durica (left) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes heads on goal during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky (right) and Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 04: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Keegan Bradley walk down the fairway on the first hole during the third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 4, 2016 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty receives treatment during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (right) and Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes (right) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball in the air during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Vladimir Weiss (L) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (R) vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley and Northern Ireland's Chris Baird (R) vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Norhern Ireland's goalkeeper Michael McGovern (L) and Slovakia's Michal Duris and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood (left) and Slovakia's Ondrej Duda battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Norhern Ireland's goalkeeper Michael McGovern (L) and Slovakia's Michal Duris and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington reacts after a challenge on Slovakia's Martin Skrtel during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky with Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Northern Ireland fans during Saturday's International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Northern Ireland fan Kate Turner before Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty appeals for a penalty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jamie Ward, Jan Durica Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Gareth McAuley, Dusan Svento Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jamie Ward, Jan Durica Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Paddy McNair, Dusan Svento Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Craig Cathcart, Marek Hamsik Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Jan Durica with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty appeals for a penalty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Dusan Svento with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Paddy McNair Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Steven Davis, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jonny Evans, Michal Duris, Chris Baird Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Gareth McAuley, Michal Duris Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Craig Cathcart, Gareth McAuley, Martin Skrtel Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jonny Evans, Michal Duris, Chris Baird Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael McGovern, Michal Duris Credit: Rafal Rusek / PPACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty, Paddy McNair, Gareth McAuley, Michael McGovern, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Shane Ferguson, Oliver Norwood, Steven Davis, Jamie Ward, Chris Baird grupowka, group Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Vladimr Weiss with Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes gets his 100th cap against Slovakia during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Dusan Svento with Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Vladimr Weiss with Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes gets his 100th cap against Slovakia during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Jan Durica with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky with Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.

In the depths of the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium on Saturday, an hour after the final whistle, Northern Ireland talisman Kyle Lafferty lifted up his T-shirt and raised his knee to the air.

The numerous wounds on his body from the effects of a running battle with Liverpool hardman and Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel were clearly evident.

"All that from one challenge," exclaimed Lafferty. "It's sore, but I'm fine."

Defender Craig Cathcart was still walking slowly having taken a knee to the back, which forced him out of the game after 30 minutes and gave Northern Ireland great Aaron Hughes the opportunity to win his 100th cap.

Bumps and bruises would have covered every single Northern Ireland outfield player yesterday morning when they woke from a well earned rest.

Northern Ireland, in their final pre-Euro 2016 warm-up match, had gone to war with an extremely physical Slovakian side, who just one week earlier had beaten Germany 3-1, and come away with their pride, bodies and most pleasing for the players the unbeaten record intact, which now stretches to 12 games.

Michael O'Neill's men have arrived at their base camp in France in the best form of any of the 24 competing nations - an incredible fact considering in December they were last of all the teams in the betting behind Albania and Iceland.

Yet it is a measure of how far Northern Ireland have come in the last two years that none of the players were happy with the performance.

They could have easily lost their discipline under intense provocation and lack of protection from Romanian referee Marian Radu - indeed, just a few years ago Lafferty would no doubt have retaliated to the rough house treatment from Skrtel and his comrades.

But they kept cool and composed on a rather pleasant evening in Trnava and it was the Slovaks and their 17,000 fans who became frustrated.

Northern Ireland's Chris Baird and Oliver Norwood pictured during their first press conference in the Media Centre in France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird and Oliver Norwood pictured during their first press conference in the Media Centre in France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood pictured during his press conference in the Media Centre in France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird pictured during his press conference in the Media Centre in France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's players run during a training session at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's captain Steven Davis (L) and coach Michael O'Neill (L) attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's captain Steven Davis (L) and coach Michael O'Neill (L) attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's forward Kyle Lafferty plays with the ball during a training session at their training ground in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's forward Kyle Lafferty plays with the ball during a training session at their training ground in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's defender Luke McCullough plays with the ball during a training session at their training ground in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's main coach Michael O'Neill (C) and players attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's main coach Michael O'Neill (2ndR) and players attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's main coach Michael O'Neill (2ndR) and players attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's players run during a training session at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's goalkeepers Roy Carroll (L) and Alan Mannus (C) run next to coach Maik Taylor (R) during a training session at their training ground in Saint-George-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's defender Luke McCullough (L) vies with Northern Ireland's midfielder Oliver Norwood (R) during a training session at their training ground in Saint-George-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's players attend a training session at their training ground in Saint-George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's players attend a training session at their training ground in Saint-George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's players attend a training session at their training ground in Saint-George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's main coach Michael O'Neill (2ndR) and players attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they arrive at their team hotel at the start of their Euro 2016 adventure. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas, Jamie Ward and Kyle Lafferty pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they arrive at their team hotel at the start of their Euro 2016 adventure. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they arrive at their team hotel at the start of their Euro 2016 adventure. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they arrive at their team hotel at the start of their Euro 2016 adventure. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson and Conor Washington pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis, Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis, Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington and Shane Ferguson pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland coach pictured as the players step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill pictured as he stepped off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill pictured as he stepped off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's David Currie pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players and staff pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Alan Mannus pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Roy Carroll and Alan Mannus pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill and IFA President Jim Shaw pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill and IFA President Jim Shaw pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Kyle Lafferty, Paddy McNair, Gareth McAuley, Michael McGovern, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Shane Ferguson, Oliver Norwood, Steven Davis, Jamie Ward, Chris Baird. Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes fans than you Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
Northern Ireland's Patrick McNair (right) and Slovakia's Dusan Svento battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty exchanges words with Slovakia's Martin Skrtel during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty shake hands during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty is spoken to by referee Radu Petrescu during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (rear) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Jan Durica (left) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes heads on goal during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky (right) and Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 04: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Keegan Bradley walk down the fairway on the first hole during the third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 4, 2016 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty receives treatment during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (right) and Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes (right) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball in the air during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Vladimir Weiss (L) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (R) vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley and Northern Ireland's Chris Baird (R) vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Norhern Ireland's goalkeeper Michael McGovern (L) and Slovakia's Michal Duris and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood (left) and Slovakia's Ondrej Duda battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Norhern Ireland's goalkeeper Michael McGovern (L) and Slovakia's Michal Duris and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington reacts after a challenge on Slovakia's Martin Skrtel during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky with Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Northern Ireland fans during Saturday's International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Northern Ireland fan Kate Turner before Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty appeals for a penalty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jamie Ward, Jan Durica Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Gareth McAuley, Dusan Svento Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jamie Ward, Jan Durica Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Paddy McNair, Dusan Svento Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Craig Cathcart, Marek Hamsik Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Jan Durica with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty appeals for a penalty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Dusan Svento with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Paddy McNair Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Steven Davis, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jonny Evans, Michal Duris, Chris Baird Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Gareth McAuley, Michal Duris Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Craig Cathcart, Gareth McAuley, Martin Skrtel Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jonny Evans, Michal Duris, Chris Baird Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael McGovern, Michal Duris Credit: Rafal Rusek / PPACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty, Paddy McNair, Gareth McAuley, Michael McGovern, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Shane Ferguson, Oliver Norwood, Steven Davis, Jamie Ward, Chris Baird grupowka, group Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Vladimr Weiss with Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes gets his 100th cap against Slovakia during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Dusan Svento with Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Vladimr Weiss with Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes gets his 100th cap against Slovakia during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Jan Durica with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky with Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.

Northern Ireland were forced to soak up a great deal of pressure, especially in the second-half, as former Rangers favourite Vladimir Weiss, Robert Mak and star man Marek Hamsik all attempted to penetrate the defence without success.

Goalkeeper Michael McGovern made a string of decent saves, most notably when in a one-on-one situation with Mak just before half-time, he made himself look big, narrowed all angles and the Slovakian striker was denied.

In many ways this game was the perfect preparation for an attack-minded Poland in Sunday's Euro 2016 opener in Nice. But Northern Ireland will want to control possession better and hurt the opposition with their explosive counter attack.

Boss O'Neill employed a 3-5-1-1 formation with Manchester United's Paddy McNair and Millwall's Shane Ferguson acting as the wing backs.

With Chris Baird in the holding midfielder slot and Jamie Ward playing just off Lafferty, this could well be the team that starts against the Poles.

O'Neill has a few big decisions to make. Leeds winger Stuart Dallas was excused from this game due to his wedding on Friday, and the boss must decide on him or Ferguson for that left wing back role. Dallas' form has been excellent recently and if it was just a winger role then he would get it every time. But Ferguson maybe offers more defensively and this will come into O'Neill's thinking.

Ferguson proved that he can handle the physical part of the game and will not be pushed over.

McNair is not a natural right back but could get the nod as a wing back ahead of Conor McLaughlin as O'Neill stressed last week that the Old Trafford youngster has an excellent chance of making the team. Baird, after a courageous performance, has the holding midfielder shirt in his grasp so McNair may move out to the right.

Northern Ireland expected a severe test from the side that had beaten Spain in qualification and had lost only twice in 19 games - make that 20 now.

Weiss, a former team-mate of Lafferty's at Ibrox, was Slovakia's main threat with his runs but his final ball was poor. Northern Ireland mostly restricted the Slovakians to half chances and efforts from the edge of the box. Gareth McAuley, exactly 11 years since he made his debut, made a goal saving challenge to poke the ball away from Hamsik on 31 minutes.

Jonny Evans tackled superbly and showed his tremendous fitness. Northern Ireland were caught out on 40 minutes for that one-on-one chance when Michal Duris played a delightful defence-splitting ball, but McGovern saved the day.

Northern Ireland did a have a few forays up field and maybe should have had a penalty after just a few minutes when a Lafferty shot inside the box looked to have hit a Slovakian arm.

On the stroke of half-time, keeper Matus Kozacik fumbled a Baird free-kick but skipper Steven Davis couldn't poke in the rebound.

Conor Washington nearly broke the deadlock just minutes after replacing Lafferty when he drilled low and hard and the keeper had to make a good save.

It was fitting on a night when Hughes won his 100th cap that Northern Ireland should kept a clean sheet.

And if they are to make a serious imprint in France, defence will be crucial.

Next stop Nice and the Poles.

SLOVAKIA: Kozacik, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Svento, Hrosovsky, Kucka (Nemec, 84 mins), Hamsik, Mak (Stoch, 65 mins), Weiss, Duris (Duda, 65 mins).

Unused subs: Mucha, Gyomber, Gregus, Sestak, Novota, Skriniar, Salata, Pecovsky.

N IRELAND: McGovern, Baird, McAuley, Cathcart (Hughes, 30 mins), J Evans, Ferguson (Hodson, 86 mins), Davis, McNair (McLaughlin, 90 mins), Norwood (C Evans, 84 mins), Lafferty (Washington, 55 mins), Ward (Magennis, 46 mins).

Unused subs: Carroll, McGinn, Grigg, McCullough, Mannus.

Referee: Radu Petrescu (Romania)

Match rating: 6/10

Man of the match: Chris Baird

Belfast Telegraph

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