The final goals from Steven Davis and Gavin White gave Northern Ireland a 3-1 victory over Luxembourg, but Ian Barracklow’s team did not do everything in a friendly.
Substitutes Davis and White sealed the victory in the 83rd and 85th minutes, but Luxembourg won the second half when Marvin Martൻnez’s header Josh Magnins’ early strike was canceled in the 58th minute.
Barracks gave up his usual outfit for trousers and jumper and gave a more relaxed technical look to his first game since signing a new two-year deal last year – an unforgettable goalless draw with Italy at Windsor Park.
But despite the promising start and three goals, the coach did not appreciate what he saw on his side at Stade de Luxembourg.
Although they took a deserved lead after dominating the opening rally, Luxembourg gradually took control of the game and saw the most likely winners after the draw.
Luke Southwood, who came on as a half-time substitute in his Northern Ireland debut, had to make several saves before Davis and White could secure victory.
After recovering earlier than expected from a hamstring injury, Davis began the evening on the bench with Johnny Evans taking on the captain’s arrow instead.
Shane Levery – in his first international match since injury in September – was quick to wreak havoc as he almost set up Magnesis twice in the first two minutes and then shot himself.
Corey Evans and Jordan Thompson made forced saves by Anthony Morris before breaking Maxim Chanotte off the ball near the corner flag.
But after taking the lead, Northern Ireland relinquished control of the game.
With Davis’ lack of consistent influence in the midfield, they gave Luxembourg more possession and more chances, but could not find the back of the net as Daniel Sinani, Norwich and Huddersfield lent in the first half, Gerson Rodriguez. Missed a series of opportunities
Evans, who played 25 minutes for Leicester in the first game since December, said he would start the game on Thursday and assess his condition at half-time, but the 34-year-old was released after being suspended.
Southwood made a half-time change to replace Conor Hazard, who quickly got their first touch as Tom Flanagan’s bad pass fell almost completely to Sinanani. When Rodriguez left the ball for Mike Pinto in the 53rd minute, Southwood needed it again but his shot was not poisoned.
Northern Ireland did not start and the equalizer came in the 58th minute. Craig Cathart did his best to beat Leandro Barrero from a dangerous cross, but Martins headed home for the post from the corner.
Sinani and Rodriguez later tested Southwood alongside Luxembourg, pushing for a four-time Baraclov substitute as he paved the way for Davis, Sieron Brown, Dion Charles, Gavin White, Evans, Magnus, Laurie and Thompson.
These changes helped Northern Ireland prevent the Luxembourg tide, but the hosts still looked like the most likely winners until everything turned out to be a hysterical finish.
First Davis scored his thirteenth international goal – with only David Healy and Kyle LaFerty left behind for Northern Ireland – after blocking Charles’ shot, hitting a long clearance from White Southwood and running to Morris, who slipped a low shot under Luxembourg. Goal to find the lower corner.
Barracks: The score pleased us, but we showed real character
Ian Barracklow admitted that a 3-1 scoreline could have made Northern Ireland happy, but praised his team’s character.
Fight to the end.
“Do we deserve 3-1? Some may say no, but we took a chance, ”Barracklow said. “We played like a team that hadn’t been together for five months. In Luxembourg, too, they were not together, but they soon clicked.
“We were a little rusty, but I’m happy with the victory. Do we deserve 3-1? Maybe not, but sometimes games go that way when you come up with a win even if you don’t play well – maybe that’s a sign of a decent team. It shows well
“It was like a first pre-season game. Worried about not being able to do things on hold. I thought we were as compact and compact as the back three or the five behind, and we made it difficult for them to get behind us. But the energy was sometimes lacking.
Luxembourg remained in first place until Baracklock was substituted four times – with Sierron Brown, Davis, White and Niall McGinn all directly influencing the winning goals, replacing Johnny Evans, who handled the one-hour defense.
“It was planned anyway, but it may have happened at the right time,” Barracklow said of the changes. “Johnny is leaving in an hour. Davao has half an hour, but we needed a spark of energy that day. ⁇
Northern Ireland have scored just as many goals in their previous six matches tonight but have lost just two of their last eight international appearances (W4 D2).
● Luxembourg have lost two of the three times they have hosted Northern Ireland and lost 1-3 (February 2000) in a friendly.
After keeping two clean sheets between three away matches between November 2018 and June 2019, Northern Ireland kept only two clean sheets in their last 15 away games outside.
Steven Davis came off the bench to score his thirteenth goal for Northern Ireland – only David Healy (36) and Kyle LaFerty (20) scored more for the national team.
11 Northern Ireland regained the lead 2-1 with just 119 seconds left.
ഷ് Josh Magennis scored his first goal in 10 appearances for Northern Ireland, his first since scoring against Austria in November 2020. Five of his nine international goals came from outside.
മാർ Marvin Martins’ equalizer for Luxembourg was his second international goal and his first since scoring against Hungary in November 2017.
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