Belfast Telegraph

Baraclough's young guns are in fine fettle for Spanish mission

Luxembourg U21s 0 Northern Ireland U21s 1

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland's Under-21s enjoyed the perfect warm-up for their Euro qualifier with Spain with a 1-0 friendly win in Luxembourg last night.

Manager Ian Baraclough has been integrating new players into the side and they rose to the occasion as Rory Holden netted the winner in the 11th minute.

This victory will keep spirits high in the camp ahead of the tough test against Spain in Tuesday's Euro 2019 qualifier in Albacete.

Elsewhere in Group Two, Iceland beat Estonia 5-2 while Spain beat Albania 3-0 last night.

The Spanish are set to qualify for next year's Euro finals in Italy after winning their seven clashes to date, but Northern Ireland still hope to make a strong finish to their campaign.

While the nine group winners automatically qualify, the four runners-up with the best records enter the play-offs.

Baraclough's side are now in fourth spot, level on points with Iceland and one behind second-placed Slovakia.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's Under-19s take on Slovakia's Under-19s at Newry Showgrounds today (2pm).

Slovakia won the opener 2-0 at Stangmore Park on Wednesday.

Admission is free for the clash as Stephen Frail and his squad finalise preparations for the Under-19 Euro preliminary round mini qualifying tournament in Northern Ireland in November when the hosts will face Poland, Serbia and Kazakhstan.

• England Under-21s remain in charge of their Euro 2019 qualification group despite being held to a goalless draw by Holland at Carrow Road.

Aidy Boothroyd's Young Lions are five points clear at the top of Group 4 with three games remaining.

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