Belfast Telegraph

Under-19s joining the Elite class

Northern Ireland 0 Slovakia 2

By Stuart McKinley

Northern Ireland under-19s have qualified for the Elite round of the European Championship qualifying thanks to a goal from Sander Svendsen.

Svendsen isn't a very Irish-sounding name, you might say - and you'd be right.

The man in question is, in fact, a young Norwegian international who plays for Molde.

A draw in their final group game would have been enough to see Northern Ireland progress, but with Slovakia leading from midway through the second half before securing a 2-0 win, Stephen Craigan's men needed a favour to go through. And they got it from Svendsen, whose own team was already out of the running. Russia took the lead after 25 minutes when Nikolai Obolski scored following a succession of corners.

A minute later, on the other side of Sochi, Slovakian midfielder Adam Laczko really set the cat among the pigeons when he put his team 1-0 up against Northern Ireland. Had the two games finished 1-0 it would have been Russia and Slovakia going through.

Svendsen changed all that when he equalised on 63 minutes and his strike ultimately knocked the Russians out and sent Northern Ireland through.

There was then strange sight of Northern Ireland players celebrating as they walked off the pitch at the end - despite having just suffered a 2-0 defeat.

The draw for the Elite round will take place on Thursday December 3, along with the initial qualifying draw for the 2017 tournament.


Belfast Telegraph


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