Belfast Telegraph

Almost there

Northern Ireland are now just ONE win away from qualifying for the Euro 2016 finals after a 3-1 victory in the Faroes Islands.

Defender Gareth McAuley was the hero in Torshavn heading two goals, one in each half, with Kyle Lafferty adding a third to complete the win.

With Hungary and Romania drawing 0-0 in Budapest, Northern Ireland moved to the top of Group F and will go to France next year should they beat the Hungarians at Windsor Park on Monday night.

That game will be played on September 7, exactly 10 years on from the night when David Healy's goal beat England.

It promises to be a spectacular - and noisy - occasion.

Last night in the Faroes, O'Neill's men won for the fifth time in the group out of six matches and it was West Bromwich Albion's McAuley who inspired the success.

The Faroes had equalised his early opener with Joan Simun Edmundsson capitalising on a mistake, but when that same player was red carded after the break, Northern Ireland took control again with former Coleraine star McAuley on target again and Lafferty finishing the scoring with his sixth goal of a sensational campaign.

McAuley said: "We have a tough game now coming up against Hungary, but I know Windsor Park will be bouncing and hopefully help take us over the line. Reaching the Euro 2016 finals would mean so much to all of us."

Lafferty added: "I believe we can do it now on Monday. All the lads will be ready to go again for another win."

Jubilant manager O'Neill, who is now just one victory away from taking Northern Ireland to a first ever Euro finals and a first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup, said: "It was a great night really. The sending off gave us that added incentive and numerical advantage and we managed the game really well from there.

"The application of the players has been phenomenal. They manage themselves. They know the prize that's at stake.

"The players are already getting themselves ready to go for Monday night."

Belfast Telegraph