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Northern Ireland Under-21s pick up point in Ukraine

Published 06/10/2016

Jim Magilton's side host France in their final fixture on Tuesday
Jim Magilton's side host France in their final fixture on Tuesday

Jim Magilton's Northern Ireland Under-21 side picked up just their second point of their European Championship qualifying campaign in a 1-1 draw in Ukraine.

The Northern Irish had lost six games in a row since a 1-1 draw with Iceland 13 months ago and were propping up the table ahead of their penultimate fixture in Kiev.

However, it was Magilton's side that took a 12th-minute lead against the run of play as Linfield's Paul Smyth, who spent the summer training with Michael O'Neill's senior squad at Euro 2016, broke the deadlock at the end of a counter-attack.

That advantage was to last just three minutes, though, as the Ukrainians levelled when Artem Besedin turned home having been set up by Oleksandr Zubkov.

Both Michael Duffy and Smyth were denied by home goalkeeper Dmytro Bezruk in the second half, while Mark Sykes fired over with an effort from range.

Zubkov then failed to find the target with a stoppage-time free-kick and Magilton's men held on to pick up a point.

Northern Ireland round off their qualifying campaign on Tuesday when France visit the recently-renovated Windsor Park.

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