International Friendlies
Czech Rep2Northern Ireland3

Northern Ireland: Paddy McNair scores twice in 3-2 friendly win in Prague

McNair has scored three international goals in 2019
McNair has scored three international goals in 2019

Two goals from Paddy McNair helped Northern Ireland secure a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic - their first win in an away friendly for 13 years.

McNair fired into the bottom corner, Jonny Evans poked home from close range and McNair slotted in after rounding the keeper to make it 3-0 at half-time.

Substitute Vladimir Darida rifled in to reduce the deficit and a minute later Alex Kral shot into the bottom corner.

The win came after NI's agonising 3-1 Euro qualifier loss to the Netherlands.

While Michael O'Neill's side were still getting over the disappointment of that last-gasp defeat by the Dutch in Rotterdam, the Czech Republic came into the game on a high after beating England 2-1 in their Group A encounter on Friday.

Northern Ireland's last victory away from Belfast in a friendly was a 2-1 triumph over Finland in 2006.

McNair stars with first-half double salvo

Three of the last four meetings between these nations had ended goalless but any notion that that scoreline may be repeated at the Generali Arena ended in the eighth minute when midfielder McNair grabbed his first of the game.

The Middlesbrough player sneaked ahead of Ladislav Krejci to get on the end of Liam Boyce's cross from the left, took a touch with his right foot and shot left-footed low into the goal.

The disorganised home defence made a second goal look likely and it arrived in the 23rd minute.

Evans pounced on a loose ball to shoot home from close range after Craig Cathcart and Tom Flanagan had got touches to McNair's well-delivered corner.

It was a fourth international goal for Evans and his second against the Czech Republic, the Leicester defender having also scored in a 2-0 World Cup qualifier win in Belfast in September 2017.

Steven Davis, winning his 115th cap to move within four of Pat Jennings' all-time NI record, provided the through ball for McNair's second as he showed composure to round the keeper one-on-one and fire home his third goal for his country.

Czechs much improved in second half

The home side made 10 changes to the starting line-up which defeated England - goalscorer Kral the only survivor from that match - but four substitutes were introduced at half-time in a bid to mount a comeback.

After dominating play after the break, one of those replacements at the interval, Darida, pulled one back with a rasping shot which Michael McGovern got a hand to but couldn't keep out.

Jan Kopic's low cross was controlled by Zdenek Ondrasek in the box and he laid the ball off for Darida to side-foot into the roof of the net.

Soon after Kral ghosted his way past two NI defenders and placed a well-struck right-foot shot into the corner to further reduce his side's deficit.

The Czechs could not find an equaliser and their attention will now be focused on their next match against Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualifying Group A, in which they lie second behind England.

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O'Neill pleased with 'brilliant' response from NI

O'Neill lines up with play-offs in mind

Northern Ireland's best chance of reaching Euro 2020 appears to be through the play-offs in March and manager O'Neill indicated he would use this fixture as preparation for a potential semi-final in five months' time.

The NI boss experimented with a 3-5-2 formation and made six changes to the team that lost to the Dutch to give some experience to players who had not enjoyed much recent game-time at international level.

All the players brought into the side impressed - McGovern palming away right-back Radim Reznik's early header, Boyce providing the delivery for McNair's opener and Conor McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan making vital blocks in their own penalty area, as well as assisting in Evans' goal.

Jordan Thompson provided the low cross from the left which Gavin Whyte met with a side-footed volley, but goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka produced the save.

Regular starter Stuart Dallas also passed up a good scoring opportunity - his first-time effort from a square ball across the face of goal flying over the bar in the first half.

Next up for Northern Ireland is a Group C qualifier against the Netherlands at Windsor Park on 16 November, with Ronald Koeman's side knowing a point there would be enough to secure qualification.

NI, who trail the Netherlands and Germany by three points, then finish their campaign with an away clash with the Germans three days later.

Line-ups

Czech Rep

  • 23Pavlenka
  • 2Reznik
  • 22SimicSubstituted forCelustkaat 45'minutes
  • 6Kudela
  • 7KrejciSubstituted forMasopustat 75'minutes
  • 10HusbauerSubstituted forSchickat 65'minutes
  • 12KalvachSubstituted forDaridaat 45'minutes
  • 17ZmrhalSubstituted forBorilat 45'minutes
  • 21Kral
  • 13Kopic
  • 11KrmencikSubstituted forOndrasekat 45'minutesBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 1Vaclik
  • 3Celustka
  • 4Brabec
  • 5Coufal
  • 8Darida
  • 9Ondrasek
  • 14Jankto
  • 15Soucek
  • 16Kolar
  • 18Boril
  • 19Schick
  • 20Masopust

Northern Ireland

  • 1McGovernBooked at 84mins
  • 5Evans
  • 20Cathcart
  • 4Flanagan
  • 2McLaughlin
  • 17McNair
  • 8DavisSubstituted forEvansat 65'minutes
  • 15ThompsonSubstituted forSavilleat 65'minutes
  • 14Dallas
  • 18WhyteSubstituted forMcGinnat 87'minutes
  • 9BoyceSubstituted forMagennisat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Smith
  • 6Saville
  • 7McGinn
  • 10Lafferty
  • 11Ferguson
  • 12Peacock-Farrell
  • 13Evans
  • 16Kennedy
  • 19Donnelly
  • 21Magennis
  • 23Carson

Match Stats

Home TeamCzech RepAway TeamNorthern Ireland
Possession
Home68%
Away32%
Shots
Home18
Away8
Shots on Target
Home5
Away4
Corners
Home10
Away2
Fouls
Home16
Away15

Live Text

Match ends, Czech Republic 2, Northern Ireland 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Czech Republic 2, Northern Ireland 3.

Foul by Lukas Masopust (Czech Republic).

George Saville (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Zdenek Ondrasek (Czech Republic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Zdenek Ondrasek (Czech Republic).

Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Alex Kral (Czech Republic) with an attempt from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Vladimír Darida with a cross.

Corner, Czech Republic. Conceded by Stuart Dallas.

Jan Boril (Czech Republic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Conor McLaughlin (Northern Ireland).

Foul by Ondrej Celustka (Czech Republic).

Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Zdenek Ondrasek (Czech Republic).

Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Niall McGinn replaces Gavin Whyte.

Jan Boril (Czech Republic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Patrick McNair (Northern Ireland).

Booking

Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) is shown the yellow card.

Attempt blocked. Lukas Masopust (Czech Republic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jan Kopic.

Jan Boril (Czech Republic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Patrick McNair (Northern Ireland).

Attempt blocked. Vladimír Darida (Czech Republic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lukas Masopust.

Attempt blocked. Jan Boril (Czech Republic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Radim Reznik with a cross.

Foul by Jan Boril (Czech Republic).

Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Patrik Schick (Czech Republic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left.

Corner, Czech Republic. Conceded by Conor McLaughlin.

Substitution

Substitution, Czech Republic. Lukas Masopust replaces Ladislav Krejci.

Corner, Czech Republic. Conceded by Corry Evans.

Foul by Ondrej Kudela (Czech Republic).

Gavin Whyte (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Patrik Schick (Czech Republic) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Vladimír Darida.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Josh Magennis replaces Liam Boyce.

Foul by Zdenek Ondrasek (Czech Republic).

Craig Cathcart (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Jan Boril (Czech Republic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Conor McLaughlin (Northern Ireland).

Foul by Jan Kopic (Czech Republic).

Gavin Whyte (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

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