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Little grabs N.Ireland U21 brace

Andrew Little netted twice as Northern Ireland Under-21s posted a comfortable 4-0 victory over San Marino in Coleraine.

The hosts were already out of contention for a spot in next summer's European Championships but they were at least able to celebrate a win in their final home match.

Little and Ryan McGivern, who converted a penalty, put Northern Ireland two goals up inside quarter of an hour but, despite almost constant pressure, they had to wait until five minutes from time to increase their lead. The goal again arrived from the penalty spot, this time Little the man to take it, and substitute William Grigg made it 4-0 in injury-time.

Northern Ireland's only previous victory in Group 5 came in San Marino and they were off the mark in the fourth minute thanks to Little. Josh Magennis had already seen an effort saved by Mattia Manzaroli and the home side were quickly pushing for a second goal.

Shane Ferguson tested Manzaroli again with 11 minutes gone, and four minutes later it was 2-0. Cliftonville's Liam Boyce tumbled under the challenge of Matteo Colonna and captain McGivern converted from the penalty spot.

Cardiff striker Magennis was proving a handful and he had another effort blocked but Steve Beaglehole's team had to be content with a two-goal lead at half-time.

The pattern continued after the break, with the hosts threatening but failing to add to their lead, this time Patrick McLaughlin the man denied.

Achille Della Valle saw a rare effort blocked for San Marino amid more Northern Ireland chances but the striker's evening ended early when he picked up two yellow cards in seven minutes.

His second booking was for a foul that gave the hosts another penalty, and they finally added to their tally with Little grabbing his second in the 85th minute.

The scoring was then rounded off by Millar in the second minute of injury-time.


From Belfast Telegraph