Northern Ireland’s newest deadly duo combined to great effect last night to fire Northern Ireland to yet another Elite title in the Milk Cup.
Billy Kee and Josh Magennis — Northern Ireland’s front two — worked tirelessly all night and were rewarded with a goal apiece.
Magennis set Northern Ireland on their way in the first half, while Kee put the game beyond doubt when he smashed a penalty home 10 minutes into the second half.
Coach Steve Beaglehole, yet to lose a game at the Milk Cup, oversaw Northern Ireland’s third win in five days
“It’s a terrific achievement for the players, we won it last year and we have retained it this year and we’ve had some very difficult games along the way,” Beaglehole said.
“We started off with Germany on Monday, then Bulgaria on Wednesday and finally Denmark in the final who I thought were a good side. We didn’t have the luxury of being able to make a lot of changes from Wednesday’s game, but we showed a great mentality and strength of character.
“It’s the second clean sheet of the tournament and we’re pleased about that, because it gives us something to build on.
“There were a number of players who were brought in from the stand-by list, because we had five withdrawals.
“Those players who have come in have done themselves a lot of favours in this tournament.”
Oliver Norwood was first to threaten for the home side when Danish goalkeeper Nicklas Hojlund had to be alert to turn the Manchester United youngster’s inswinging free kick onto the bar, in the driving wind and rain.
Kee was also in typically lively form and his shot was well blocked and turned out for a corner by Jacob Albrechtsen after bursting through the defence
The home side were playing into a strong breeze in the opening 45 minutes but easily kept the Danes at bay in the early exchanges, mainly reducing them to long range efforts.
Beaglehole’s boys forged ahead in the 21st minute, with a textbook cross and a well-directed headed finish.
James Lawrie provided the cross on the right to Magennis who got himself into plenty of space inside the box and finished with a neat header right into the bottom left corner.
On 34 minutes Magennis threatened again, but looked bewildered to receive a yellow card for simulation as he went down under a challenge from Jonas Jacobsen on the edge of the area.
At the other end, Anders Christensen was forced wide of the goal to the byline after breaking through the middle, however he still had the composure to find Christian Gytkjaer with a cross, but the striker couldn’t find a meaningful touch and it was gratefully gathered by Devlin.
Play once again switched to the Danish goal as Magennis wrestled his way down the right flank to pick out Lawrie, but the Port Vale midfielder dragged his effort wide.
On the stroke of half time Devlin was then at full stretch to tip
wide a stinging drive from Christensen, which was destined for the bottom corner.
The second period began exactly the same as the first had ended, with chances arriving at both ends.
That man Christensen, who was so lively in the first half, tested Devlin once more, but again the young stopper came out on top from a tight angle.
Nine minutes into the second period Magennis burst through the defence, shrugging off two challenges, but Hojlund came to the Danes rescue saving the low drive with his legs.
However, just 60 second later all of Hojlund’s good work seemed to count for nothing as he spilled the ball at the feet of Magennis and dragged the big striker to the ground, giving away a penalty in the process.
Kee stepped up to blast the ball straight and true down the middle for this third goal of a great tournament on a personal level.
The game fizzled out after the second goal as the Danes looked beaten and could muster no more than a handful of half chances.
Play-offs: Israel 1 USA 1 (USA win 5-4 on pens), Bulgaria 0 Germany 5
Final: Northern Ireland 2 Denmark 0.