Euro U21 Qualifying - Group 2
Iceland U210Northern Ireland U211

Northern Ireland Under-21 beat Iceland to keep European qualifying hopes alive

Arsenal defender Ballard struck late to give NI U21s victory
Arsenal defender Ballard struck late to give NI U21s victory

A last-gasp Daniel Ballard goal earned Northern Ireland Under-21s a 1-0 win over Iceland and kept their slim hopes of qualification for next year's European Championship finals alive.

Ballard scored in the 90th minute of Thursday's qualifier in Reykjavik, with Jamie McDonagh providing the assist.

NI must also beat Slovakia in their final qualifier in Belfast on Tuesday to have a chance of qualifying.

Four of the nine group runners-up will progress to the play-offs.

Spain have won Group Two, but Thursday's win for Ian Baraclough's side moved them into second place, two points above Slovakia, who have a match in hand.

The 12-team finals tournament will be staged in June 2019, with Spain, France and hosts Italy assured of their places.

European Under-21 qualifying tables

Last month Northern Ireland boosted their prospects with a superb 2-1 win in Alicante, which ended Spain's 100% record in the qualifying campaign - although the home side were already through to the finals.

Ballard's winner came at the end of some sustained pressure from the visitors in the closing stages, but they first had to weather several Iceland attacks in the first half.

Northern Ireland keeper Conor Hazard superbly blocked a Arnor Sigurdsson shot with Julius Magnusson, Alfons Sampsted, Ottar Karlsson, and Samuel Friajonsson all missing chances.

Derry City's Jamie McDonagh then fired wide Northern Ireland's only real first-half chance but Ballard had to be on hand to clear a Karlsson effort off the line just before the interval.

In the second half, Northern Ireland duo Liam Donnelly and Shayne Lavery both had sights of goal but fired wide, while there were appeals for a penalty when Jordan Thompson hit the deck but the referee was not interested.

Northern Ireland continue to build pressure in the closing stages with Pierce Bird denied, but just when it looked like ending in a draw, Ballard got his head on McDonagh's corner to earn three vital points.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Thursday 11th October 2018

As It Stood


1Greece U2187102432122
2Croatia U2186112552019
3Belarus U2194231112-114
4Czech Rep U2194141315-213
5Moldova U219216822-147
6San Marino U219009125-240


1Spain U2198012481624
2Northern Ireland U2195221411317
3Slovakia U2185031517-215
4Iceland U2193241412211
5Albania U219135715-86
6Estonia U218017920-111


1Denmark U2186112671919
2Poland U2185301881018
3Finland U2182331217-59
4Georgia U218233915-69
5Faroe Islands U218134815-76
6Lithuania U218116314-114


1England U2197202141723
2Ukraine U218422158714
3Scotland U218422128414
4Netherlands U218332156912
5Latvia U218035515-103
6Andorra U219027128-272


1Germany U2186112962319
2Norway U2184221310314
3R. of Ireland U2194231213-114
4Kosovo U21933399012
5Israel U2193241418-411
6Azerbaijan U219027526-212


1Belgium U2197202051523
2Sweden U2196211951420
3Turkey U219423129314
4Hungary U2183231010011
5Cyprus U219207722-156
6Malta U218008522-170


1Serbia U2188002351824
2Austria U2186022251718
3Russia U218512189916
4Armenia U219225916-78
5Macedonia U2181161018-84
6Gibraltar U219108130-293


1Portugal U2196122992019
2Romania U218530134918
3Bosnia and Herzegovina U2196032271518
4Wales U218314811-310
5Switzerland U2193151015-510
6Liechtenstein U219009238-360


1France U2199002351827
2Slovenia U2184221210214
3Kazakhstan U2192431213-110
4Bulgaria U2182339909
5Montenegro U218125714-75
6Luxembourg U218116618-124
View full Euro U21 Qualifying tables

Top Stories