Belfast Telegraph

Oliver Norwood keen to break even more records with Northern Ireland

By Steven Beacom

Eight is great. Nine would be better, but Oliver Norwood wants to move to 10 and beyond.

What's the Reading midfielder talking about?

The number of unbeaten matches for Northern Ireland, that's what.

With Friday night's 1-0 home victory in a friendly against Latvia, Michael O'Neill's men have now stretched their superb run to eight games without defeat.

The last time a Northern Ireland side did that was in 1986 when Billy Bingham's team went nine unbeaten.

Already the current crop have become the first Northern Ireland team to qualify for the European Championship finals and quite rightly Norwood sees no reason why they can't target more records.

"We are eight games unbeaten now and it's important we carry that on," said Norwood, who played the opening 45 minutes against Latvia.

"There's a lot of positives for us at the moment. We have won a friendly for the first time in a long time and now we have to go for nine games unbeaten.

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"And if we achieve that, then we have to go for 10 unbeaten. We will work hard to try and achieve that and break records again.

"I think we're proving a point on the international stage."

Norwood, who played all 10 games in the successful campaign, added that building up to Euro 2016, the players will relish playing in high profile fixtures.

"The pressure is something we're thriving off now and you can see that in our games," he said.

"We're confident, we're buzzing and we're going out there enjoying ourselves.

"There's nobody pulling out of squads any more. You get people turning up for every game now, which is important. No one wants to miss out. It's important we keep doing that and keep performing."

Final three places up for grabs as Hungary seal spot

Slowly, but surely we are getting there. By tomorrow all 24 of the countries competing in Euro 2016 will be known.

Last night, Hungary unlocked the key of the door becoming the 21st nation to make it to France beating Norway 2-1 in Budapest earning them a 3-1 aggregate victory in the play-offs.

It means that three teams from Northern Ireland's group will be in the tournament next year. Michael O'Neill's men topped the table, Romania also qualified as runners-up and the third placed Hungarians have made it too.

Tamas Priskin opened the scoring for Hungary before a Markus Henriksen own goal made it 2-0. Henriksen did strike at the right end for Norway later on, but to no avail.

Like Northern Ireland, Hungary have reached their first major tournament since 1986, sparking celebrations led by ex-Crystal Palace goalkeeper Gador Kiraly.

Belfast Telegraph