Northern Ireland narrowly missed out on a place in the European under-17 finals, despite what manager Paul Kee branded ‘a 1-0 annihilation of Belgium’.
Kee’s boys needed to win to keep qualification hopes alive and after a first period of half chances Northern Ireland struck the only goal — two minutes into the second-half.
It wasn’t enough though as Spain’s 2-0 win over Poland sees them progress to the finals in Liechtenstein thanks to their 4-0 win over Northern Ireland in the opening game.
Wolves striker Liam McAlinden was the match winning hero, finishing off a neat move with a shot from just inside the box.
“Spain owe us a big favour because we’ve beaten a team that previously had a 100 per cent record to help them qualify,” said Kee. “We played much better football than a highly regarded Belgium team and although it was only 1-0, it was an annihilation.”
Northern Ireland: Deane, McLaughlin, McCullough, McKeown, Knowles, Ball, Kennedy, McAlinden, Carson, Toland, Lavery. Subs: Glendinning, Jones, Winchester, Quinn, McLellan.
Belgium: Dhoest, Feltesse, Arslanagic, Zennaro, Van Steenkiste, Buatu Mananga, Hazard, Lallemand, Van der Bruggen, Vandewalle, Raman. Subs: Van Crombrugge, Vanwildemeersch, de Feyter, Kuzmicki, Ntambwe, Bruno, Bonemme.
Referee: Alan Mario Sant (Malta)