Belfast Telegraph

Kyle regrets 'stupid' yellow card but is still dreaming

By Paul Ferguson

Northern Ireland saviour Kyle Lafferty admitted that the yellow card that will rule him out of next month's massive clash with Greece was 'stupid' but has backed his team mates to seal Euro 2016 qualification without him.

The Norwich City striker was booked after just 10 minutes - his third caution of the campaign, meaning a suspension - and then struck a dramatic 93rd minute equaliser to give Northern Ireland a 1-1 draw with Hungary.

Victory though for Northern Ireland against Greece in the next qualifier - on October 8 at Windsor Park - will seal a berth at the finals in France.

"My yellow card was stupid," said Lafferty, who has now scored seven goals in eight appearances during this campaign.

"I was far too eager. I went to keep the ball in play, the guys went over and I've caught him.

"It was the right decision and my own stupidity, but the squad is strong enough to get over the finish line against Greece.

"If they don't do it against Greece we'll do it in Finland.

"The fans are absolutely buzzing, they came for a party but the champagne is on ice and I'm pretty sure the lads will do it in the next game.

"I don't want to tempt fate however although we've got players missing (Lafferty, Chris Baird and Conor McLaughlin), we've got others who can come in and do a job."

Derby midfielder Baird was sent off for two fouls in quick succession resulting in two yellow cards in the 81st minute.

Manager Michael O'Neill admitted it was incredibly harsh as Baird didn't know he was going to be booked when the Turkish referee was playing the advantage.

Talisman Lafferty agreed with his boss saying: "The red card was questionable. It's a strange one. The referee explained it two or three times on the pitch but we didn't really know what he had actually done wrong.

"It's one of those things, we have to get on with it.

"Other than that the referee was pretty spot on for the rest of the game."

Northern Ireland showed great character and resilience to earn a point - especially having been reduced to 10 men.

The draw keeps Northern Ireland top of Group F by one point from Romania, who were held to a draw by basement boys, Greece.

"Everyone knows the squad that we have, they are willing to fight to the end," states the 27 year old.

"We scored in the 93rd minute with 10 men. This team doesn't know when to stop working. I'm pretty sure we deserved three points.

"We'll go out against Greece and hopefully the lads will be celebrating."

There was an incredible atmosphere inside Windsor Park as the fans came to party.

The famous old stadium, currently under redevelopment, was bouncing throughout and the atmosphere was electric for the final 16 minutes.

Northern Ireland didn't manage to get the job done but they are still in a great position to reach their first ever Euro finals.

Lafferty added: "The fans have been superb and it is disappointing we didn't cross the finish line for them."

Belfast Telegraph