Belfast Telegraph

McCalmont hits back to secure battling draw with Hungarians

Northern Ireland 1 Hungary 1

On target: Alfie McCalmont netted at Ferney Park
On target: Alfie McCalmont netted at Ferney Park

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland Under-21s were held 1-1 by Hungary in a friendly at Ferney Park last night.

Ian Baraclough's side are gearing up for their final Euro 2021 qualifier of 2019 when they take on Romania at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Tuesday evening.

And they had to come from behind to avoid defeat at the home of Ballinamallard United.

Adrian Szoke's first-half goal turned the heat up on the hosts but Leeds United youngster Alfie McCalmont grabbed the equaliser after the break.

The 19-year-old, who made his senior Northern Ireland debut against Luxembourg in September, showed his ruthless touch to make it 1-1.

Northern Ireland have had a testing start to their qualifying campaign, playing away in three of their opening four games, gaining two points in draws against Malta and Finland.

And the Under-19s will be aiming to bounce back from Tuesday's 3-0 defeat to Norway when they return to action in the Uefa U19 Championship preparation tournament tonight.

Portugal, who lost 2-1 to Germany in Ballymena, are up next for Stephen Frail's boys at Mourneview Park (7.30pm).

Meanwhile, Zachary Elbouzedi scored the only goal of the game against Armenia as Republic of Ireland Under-21s held on to victory with 10 men to stay top of their Euro 2021 qualifying group.

The Waterford midfielder hit the target in the 63rd minute of his side's trip to Yerevan, enough to deliver a 1-0 win that left the Republic on 13 points after six games.

Things were made more difficult for the last 14 minutes after West Brom defender Dara O'Shea was sent off for a wayward challenge, but the hosts could not find a way past 17-year-old debutant goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu - one of several fresh faces in a side that was hit by a host of withdrawals and suspensions.

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