North drop first points

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty looks dejected after the final whistle. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill said his side’s 2-0 defeat in Romania should not distract from their excellent start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

O’Neill’s men dropped their first points in Group H in their fourth game as two goals in the final 15 minutes saw the hosts finally break down their opponents’ stubborn resistance.

Northern Ireland still sit in second place in the pool, one point behind Romania, with on paper their hardest games out of the way.

“I couldn’t have asked any more in terms of their commitment, their work ethic,” O’Neill said of his team’s performance on Sky Sports 2.

“We came up against a really good side. We defended fantastically well, which we had to do. We came within 15 minutes of getting a fantastic result. “We no have two home games to look forward to. We have nine points from four games, three of them away to the hardest teams in the group, so it’s a fantastic start for us.”

Defender Aaron Hughes echoed his manager’s sentiments, saying how the team responded from the loss would be key.

“It was difficult, when you come to these place you expect it to be difficult,” he said.

“We are still in a good position, it’s by no means devastating, we just need to learn from a few things and keep going.”

It was a memorable night for the Faroe Islands who shocked hosts Greece with Jóan Edmundsson scoring the only goal of the game in Piraeus.

The visitors duly traded places with their opponents at the bottom of the group after posing a counterattacking danger throughout the contest and deserving their victory, having scored a 61st-minute clincher after Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis had foiled them on a number of occasions.

It was the northern nation’s first competitive win since June 2011 when they beat Estonia at home in a EURO qualifier.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo became the European Champions’s all-time top scorer as he got the only goal of the game to see off a resolute Armenia in Faro-Loule.

It was the scrappiest of goals as Ricardo Quaresma’s shot was saved before the rebound was scuffed back into the area where the Real Madrid star – almost on the goal-line – needed two swipes at the ball to put it in.

Meanwhile Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has dislocated a finger on his right hand while on international duty, the Spanish Football Association has announced.

De Gea will now be assessed by the Spanish doctors, before a decision is made on whether to send him back to his club.

A statement on www.sefutbol.com read: “Spain’s goalkeeper David de Gea was sidelined from training session after dislocating the little finger on his right hand.

“He will remain with the Spain squad while the medical services of the Spanish FA evaluate the extent of the injury.”

Spain – already without Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas because of a hamstring injury – are set to continue their Group C campaign against Belarus on Saturday, before a friendly with world champions Germany next week.

In the night’s other games Hungary defeated Finland 1-0 while Denmark recorded an impressive 3-1 win away to Serbia.


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