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Hero Chris: I don't care who scores as long as we win

By Paul Ferguson

Published 12/11/2016

Star man: Oliver Norwood celebrates with Chris Brunt after the fourth goal hits the net against Azerbaijan at Windsor Park
Star man: Oliver Norwood celebrates with Chris Brunt after the fourth goal hits the net against Azerbaijan at Windsor Park

Returning hero Chris Brunt last night admitted it doesn't matter who scores the goals for Northern Ireland, just as long as Michael O'Neill's men are victorious.

Brunt looked to have capped off a magical comeback to the international team, after eight months out with an horrific knee injury, with Northern Ireland's fourth and final goal against Azerbaijan last night - following a low, rasping shot.

But replays seemed to indicate captain Steven Davis directed the ball into the net. Magnanimous Davis offered to give the goal to Brunt, who last scored for Northern Ireland seven years ago in San Marino, and while the West Brom man insisted he'll accept it, he also conceded that he's just happy Northern Ireland recorded a big win against their Group C rivals.

"I'm not too sure what actually happened," when asked about the goal eight minutes form time.

"At first I thought it did hit of Davo so it was his goal. But if he is giving it to me, then I'll gladly take it. It doesn't really matter who scores the goals, it's just important we win. The shot was on target so that was the main thing from my point of view. I'm sure it will be debated on TV and the pundits will decide. But the important thing is it went in and completely killed them off."

It was an eventful match for Brunt as he was in the wars after a clash of heads during the first half which meant he was bandaged up for rest of the game and then needed stitches before leaving Windsor Park.

"It was like welcome back to international football. That was the last thing I needed after being out for so long. But credit to the Irish FA medical team - they bandaged me up pretty well," said Brunt.

Brunt, named man of the match, defended extremely well at left back and always looked a threat going forward.

His delivery from crosses and set pieces set up numerous opportunities for Northern Ireland. Brunt's delightful free kick allowed Gareth McAuley to head home Northern Ireland's second after Kyle Lafferty had given them the lead on 27 minutes.

"It couldn't have gone much better for me and the team," states Brunt. "The result was obviously important thing and then the fact we kept a clean sheet.

"Azerbaijan were coming here on the back of not conceding a goal in three goals so it was important for us to put them on the back foot and try and score some goals.

"We obviously did that and to come away with a 4-0 win is great. In the second half they may have had a bit more of the ball but I don't really recall Michael McGovern having to make more than one save tonight.

"At the other end, every time we put the ball in the box, we looked dangerous and of course set pieces are very important to us. If you put the ball in the right place you have guys who can attack it like big Gareth - he does that every week at West Brom. You know if you hit a decent ball in then there is a big chance someone like Gareth will get on the end of it."

Belfast Telegraph

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