Belfast Telegraph

Late heartache for Magilton's gutsy starlets

France 1-0 N Ireland

By Stuart McKinley

Northern Ireland suffered late disappointment as France's goal eight minutes from time left them with just one point from four games in their European Under-21 Championship qualifying group.

Although the French had more of the play in Guingamp, the Northern Ireland defence, with five-times capped senior international Luke McCullough captaining the team from the centre, held firm until Enzo Crivelli - who has already played 15 times in Bordeaux's first team - scored a late winner.

The result is hugely disappointing for Jim Magilton's team, who were so close to holding out a strong French line-up, some of whom are regulars with their clubs in France's top league.

Even the presence of McCullough and fellow senior international Ryan McLaughlin in the team wasn't enough to help Northern Ireland get anything out of the game.

France were the dominant force in the match, totalling 16 attempts on goal and eight on target, but Conor Brennan did well to keep the score down.

Sebastien Haller, Adrien Rabiot and Corentin Tolisson were all denied by Brennan, but Northern Ireland's hopes of a draw crumbled when substitute Crivelli netted in the 82nd minute.

He converted a pass from Georges-Kevin N'Koudou to grab the points for Les Bleus, who now have nine points from a possible 12.

Rabiot hit the woodwork two minutes from time, while Shay McCartan saw his side's only serious attempt saved.

NORTHERN Ireland Under-19s beat Norway 2-1 in their European Under-19 qualifier. Ben Kennedy and Michael Newberry scored the goals.

France: Maignan, Moreira, Pavard, Kimpembe, Amavi, Walter, Coco, Tolisso, Rabiot, Nkoudou, Haller.

Subs: Crivelli for Haller (61 mins), Lenglet for Amavi (72 mins), Cornet for N'Koudou (90 mins).

Unused subs: Hassen, Lenglet, Koziello, Cornet, Sparagna, Jean.

Northern Ireland: Brennan, Dummigan, McCullough, Doherty, Conlan, McLaughlin, McKnight, Maloney, Whyte, Kennedy, Duffy.

Subs: Stewart for Whyte (67 mins), McCartan for McLaughlin (75 mins), McDaid for Kennedy (87 mins).

Unused subs: Mitchell, Sharpe, McDonagh.

Referee: Zaven Hovhannisyan (Armenia).

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