Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Northern Ireland mark national stadium opening with San Marino win... but on frustrating night

Northern Ireland 4 San Marino 0

By Adrian Rutherford

Northern Ireland marked the opening of the new national stadium with a win - but it was a night of deep frustration against San Marino.

Michael O’Neill’s side dominated against the minnows, who have never won a competitive game.

But it took 75 minutes for the points to be secured as the home side wasted a series of chances.

They had led through man of the match Steven Davis’s first half penalty.

San Marino were then reduced to 10 men early in the second half.

But as chance after chance was spurned, the home fans’ frustration grew.

It took the introduction of fans’ hero Kyle Lafferty to kill the game.

He netted six minutes after coming on to confirm the win, with Jamie Ward netting the third soon afterwards.

Lafferty added his second - Northern Ireland’s fourth - with the final kick of the night.

It leaves Northern Ireland on four points after the opening two games as they bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

But Michael O’Neill will know improvement will be needed against world champions Germany in Hannover on Tuesday night.

Northern Ireland then play Azerbaijan in Belfast on November 11.

On a frustrating night, it took 25 minutes to break down San Marino.

The opener came from the spot after the referee spotted a foul on Josh Magennis as he tried to connect with a cross from Shane Ferguson.

Davis took responsibility for the penalty and, while the goalkeeper got his hands to it, the pace of the strike beat him.

It was a moment of history from the skipper, who became the first player to score at the redeveloped national stadium.

Ahead of kick-off a parade of sporting legends had marked its official opening.

Boxer Carl Frampton, former world snooker champion Dennis Taylor and Olympic gold medal winner Mary Peters were among those present.

San Marino had lost their last 34 World Cup qualifiers, conceding 154 goals, but managed to keep the home side to one goal in the first half.

Early on Niall McGinn swung over a cross from the right but Stuart Dallas, arriving at the back post, couldn't convert.

The best move of the first half saw Davis break at pace, exchange passes with Ward, only to shoot well wide.

Then Ward’s header drew a smart save from the goalkeeper.

The second half started better as Ward tested the ‘keeper with a well-struck effort from the edge of the area.

San Marino were reduced to 10 men when Mirko Palazzi, already booked for an early challenge on McGinn, was shown a second yellow.

He tried to block a quick throw-out from the goalkeeper, ending his night.

Selfie time for Actor James Nesbitt, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody and Dame Mary Peters. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Selfie time for Actor James Nesbitt, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody and Dame Mary Peters. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Jimmy Nesbitt. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Fans enjoy the match. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Fans enjoy the match. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Carl Frampton along with Gerry Armstrong. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Northern Ireland football stars Pat Jennings and Harry Gregg help Jay and Ellie cut the ribbon to official open the new stadium for the fans. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Fans enjoy the match. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Jimmy Nesbitt. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Fans enjoy the match. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino World Cup Qualifier Group C Northern Ireland’s Jonny Evans and San Marino’s Matteo Coppini during this evenings game at the National Stadium in Belfast. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Goal keeping Legends Harry Gregg and Pat Jennings attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Actor Jimmy Nesbitt attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland team The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Golfer Rory McIIroy attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye World Champion Boxer Carl Frampton attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Actor Charlie Lawson pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Actor Charlie Lawson pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Actor Charlie Lawson pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Actor Charlie Lawson pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Actor Charlie Lawson pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Irish FA President, David Martin and FIFA President, Gianni Infantino pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Actor Charlie Lawson pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Actor Charlie Lawson pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 8th October FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier - Northern Ireland Vs San Marino at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast Northern Ireland fan and presenter Colin Murray Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Gary McAllister pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Eamonn Holmes pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Jimmy Nesbitt pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Jimmy Nesbitt pictured at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 8th October FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier - Northern Ireland Vs San Marino at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast Northern Ireland's fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 8th October FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier - Northern Ireland Vs San Marino at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast Northern Ireland's fans(left to right) Richard Kennedy, John Clarke, Joesph Rea(6) and Laura Clarke from Comber Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 8th October FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier - Northern Ireland Vs San Marino at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast Northern Ireland's in the new kopstand Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are pictured with Communities Minister Paul Givan, Marco Van Basten, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Irish FA President, David Martin before the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fans Matthew Denny,David Irwin,Matthew Irwin and Rachel Walker attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fan Anne Cullen from Donaghmore attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are pictured with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Irish FA President, David Martin at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fans Alastair, scott and Alexandra Carnwath from Antrin attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fans Joshua (7) and Caleb Crooks (6) from Coagh attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fans Mark Alexander ans eight year old Adam from Armagh attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fan Aaron Crawford from Londonderry attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fans Stephen and Sarah Cameron from Antrim attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fan Louise Beacom from Omagh attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Kevin Scott / Press Eye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Kevin Scott / Press Eye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Kevin Scott / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fans Matthew Denny,David Irwin,Matthew Irwin and Rachel Walker attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fans Alastair, scott and Alexandra Carnwath from Antrin attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fans Joshua (7) and Caleb Crooks (6) from Coagh attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland fan Anne Cullen from Donaghmore attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Communities Minister Paul Givan is pictured with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Irish FA President, David Martin at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier General view of the plaque at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier FIFA President, Gianni Infantino at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino World Cup qualifier Group C The official opening of the National Stadium this evening with a lap of former Northern Ireland legends. Jimmy Nesbitt pictured Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino World Cup qualifier Group C The official opening of the National Stadium this evening with a lap of former Northern Ireland legends. Jimmy Nesbitt pictured Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino World Cup qualifier Group C The official opening of the National Stadium this evening Pat Jennings & Mary Peters pictured Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino World Cup qualifier Group C The official opening of the National Stadium this evening Pat Jennings pictured Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino World Cup qualifier Group C The official opening of the National Stadium this evening with a lap of former Northern Ireland legends. Jimmy Nesbitt pictured Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino World Cup qualifier Group C The official opening of the National Stadium this evening with a lap of former Northern Ireland legends. Jimmy Nesbitt pictured Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Northern Ireland began to up the pressure against the 10 men.

McGinn cut in from the wing and drew a brilliant save from the goalkeeper. The ball rebounded to Dallas, but he fired over.

Northern Ireland were camped around the visitors’ box, laying siege to the goal with a series of crosses and shots.

But each time it ended in frustration through a combination of last-ditch defending and poor execution.

Ward was next to threaten, cutting inside and drawing another fine save from the goalkeeper, who then got down to deny Magennis.

Aldo Simoncini foiled Ward for a second time in a matter of minutes, with sub Conor Washington firing the rebound wide.

Lafferty was introduced in place of Magennis and, in the 79th minute, finally made the game safe.

Ferguson crossed from the left and the striker tapped home from close range.

Ward made it 3-0 in the 85th minute.

Again Ferguson and Lafferty were involved, the latter heading down Ferguson’s cross for Ward to smash home.

And with the game’s final kick Lafferty made it four, firing home after being teed up by the impressive Davis. 

NORTHERN IRELAND: McGovern, McLaughlin (McNair, 77), J Evans, McAuley, Ferguson, McGinn, Davis, Norwood, Dallas (Washington, 65), Ward, Magennis (Lafferty, 73)

SAN MARINO: Simoncini, Berardi, Vitaioli, Simoncini, Valle, Palazzi, Hirsch (Cesarini, 55), Tosi, Coppini (Golinucci, 71), Vitaioli, Stefanelli

Referee: Istvan Kovacs (Romania)

Online Editors

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph