Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fans party in San Marino

By Adrian Rutherford

The road to Russia is nearing the finishing line for Northern Ireland's footballers.

A 3-0 win over minnows San Marino last night took Michael O'Neill's men a step closer to their first World Cup finals for more than 30 years.

Hundreds of fans who made the trip celebrated after the victory in Serravalle. The game was goalless at the break, but Northern Ireland rallied in the second half.

Josh Magennis netted twice while Steve Davis rolled home a penalty to secure the points.

Davis said: "Patience was key.

"We couldn't find a breakthrough in the first half, but it was important to keep doing the right things. Don't start getting frustrated and going long too early.

"The pitch was difficult at times. They defended for their lives and the keeper made some good saves - it was comfortable in the end."

A draw against the Czech Republic in Belfast on Monday night will be enough to secure second place in the qualifying group.

Northern Ireland are then likely to face a play-off for qualification for the finals next summer.

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