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Scotland too hot for Northern Ireland under 21s

Scotland 3 N Ireland 1: Northern Ireland’s under 21s fell to a 3-1 defeat to Scotland at Firhill last night.

In an evenly-matched first half Leigh Griffiths' spectacular opener after 12 minutes was cancelled out by Northern Ireland’s former Coleraine striker Eunan O'Kane nine minutes from the break.

Skipper Paul Hanlon restored the home side's lead in the 65th minute before substitute Nicholas Ross, on for Kyle Hutton, clinched the win in the final minute with a low drive from just outside the box.

Griffiths found the net with his first real effort and it was worth waiting on.

The Dundee striker took a Bradden Inman pass at the corner of the Northern Ireland box and arrowed a wonderful left-footed drive past Rangers keeper Wayne Drummond.

Steve Beaglehole’s men responded positively and Jamie Barclay had to move smartly to knock a Billy Kee drive from distance past the post for a corner which came to nothing.

There was little more goalmouth action until the 23rd minute when Drummond had to make a decent save from Ibrox team mate John Fleck, who fired a left-footed drive from 25 yards.

It was Northern Ireland who scored next when O'Kane picked the ball up on the left-hand side of the box and his curling effort found the far corner of the net.

In the 55th minute substitute Josh Carson, on for O'Kane, flighted a corner in from the right and Kee glanced a header off the bar.

Kee then made way for by Werder Bremen’s ex-Cliftonville forward Liam Boyce and with the substitutions mounting, the game became increasingly disjointed.

However, Scotland went back in front when Craig Thomson's corner from the left came off Grant Hanley and Hanlon squeezed the ball in at the back post.

Carson stung the hands of Jamie Barclay with a powerful drive before Thomson cleared off the line from a Sean McCaskin header as Northern Ireland went all out for an equaliser.

But in the last minute Ross sealed the win with a shot from 18 yards.

Scotland U21: Barclay, Thomson, Hanley, Perry, Hanlon, Armstrong, Inman, Hutton, Fleck, Russell, Griffiths. Subs: Ridgers, Duffie, Booth, Palmer, Ness, MacDonald, Ross, Wylde, Andrews.

N Ireland U21: Drummond, Conor McLaughlin, Breeze, McCashin, Ferguson, Bryan, Patrick McLaughlin, Devine, O'Kane, Grigg, Kee. Subs: Deane, Lavery, Boyce, Clucas, Bagnall, Carson, Brennan.

Referee: Richard Liesveld (Holland)

Belfast Telegraph