Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

In Pictures: Northern Ireland draw in Finland thriller

Martin Patterson, centre, struck a late penalty as Northern Ireland drew against Finland

Martin Paterson's 84th-minute penalty earned Northern Ireland an entertaining 3-3 draw in a see-saw friendly encounter against Finland at Windsor Park.

Having failed to score in both of manager Michael O'Neill's previous matches, the goals finally came here - Shane Ferguson and Paterson opening their international accounts and the returning Kyle Lafferty underlining his importance with his ninth senior strike.

Northern Ireland were 2-0 ahead after a bright start but two goals in as many minutes from Tim Sparv and Teemu Pukki, followed by an unstoppable second-half free-kick from Perparim Hetemaj, left them needing Paterson's late intervention.

Olympiacos goalkeeper Roy Carroll earned a recall in place of Lee Camp for his first start in six years. Elsewhere, Chris Baird, Chris Brunt and Lafferty made their first appearances for O'Neill having previously been unavailable.

Northern Ireland's first chance resulted in the opener after seven minutes. Rangers' Dean Shiels battled for the ball down the right channel and saw his deflected pass across goal fall for Ferguson, who showed superb technique to lash home a powerful left-footed shot at the near post.

With 19 minutes gone, the hosts were two ahead through Lafferty. Again Shiels played his part, taking down Lee Hodson's lofted ball with the outside of his boot before whipping a cross into the six-yard area and Lafferty battled to get the first touch and bundled over the line under pressure from Joona Toivio.

This time Finland were able to respond in kind, taking just three minutes before Kari Arkivuo's cross was expertly headed home by a straining Sparv.

Having pulled one back, the visitors drew level just two minutes later. This time Northern Ireland were entirely to blame, Roman Eremenko doing the prompting and Brunt taking a loose ball on his chest before casually rolling the ball back into his own penalty area. The back four were caught cold, leaving the waiting Pukki alone to roll his shot past Carroll via the post.

Eight minutes later Finland found their third, McGivern was penalised for a foul 20 yards out and Hetemaj sending a rocket of a free-kick in off the upright.

The late penalty rescued O'Neill's side, Steven Davis surging towards the area and teeing up substitute Paterson. The Burnley man went to ground without too much resistance but earned the penalty against Toivio nonetheless. He took the spot-kick himself, drilling hard and low for his first goal in 14 caps.

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