Women's European Championship Qualifying - Group C
N Ireland WomNorthern Ireland3Belarus WomenBelarus Women2

Women's Euro qualifier: Northern Ireland beat Belarus to edge closer to play-off spot

Northern Ireland edge five-goal thriller to keep Euro dream alive

Northern Ireland saw off Belarus 3-2 in a five-goal thriller to edge closer to securing a place in the play-offs for Women's Euro 2022.

Kirsty McGuinness' clinical second-minute left-foot finish put NI ahead but Anastasiya Shcherbachenia equalised after a defensive mix-up on 16 minutes.

Rachel Furness netted a penalty on the hour, Shcherbachenia levelled again but McGuinness' second on 70 won the game.

NI will be in a play-off if they win at home to the Faroe Islands on Tuesday.

Northern Ireland's women's team has never previously taken part in a major championships or been in a play-off to reach one.

Having drawn two and lost two of their first four games of this campaign, qualification for Women's Euro 2022 finals appeared unlikely but wins on the road against the Faroes and Belarus in recent months left Kenny Shiels' side with their destiny in their own hands as they approached this double-header in Belfast.

Norway top Group C with maximum points but NI can clinch the runners-up spot, which would ensure a play-off berth if they can overcome the Faroes at Seaview next week.

NI manager Kenny Shiels praised his side's character after the win over Belarus

NI off to a flying start

The hosts began the game brightly and opened the scoring with a brilliant first-time finish from Sion Swifts striker McGuinness, who fired home after Emily Wilson's initial effort had been saved.

Northern Ireland went close to extending their lead when Furness shot towards goal and visiting goalkeeper Nataliya Voskobovich spilled the ball but after consultation with one of her assistants, the referee adjudged the ball had not crossed the line.

Belarus were back in the game soon after when home goalkeeper Rebecca Flaherty needlessly raced off her line as captain Shcherbachenia latched onto a long ball and drilled a shot low under the advancing NI keeper.

Demi Vance then won the ball, went on a strong run from halfway and unleashed a long-range effort that was well saved by Voskobovich.

The Belarusian keeper then pushed over Wilson's effort from an acute angle on the right as the sides went in level at half-time.

Anastasia Linnik and Rachel Furness in action during the first half at Seaview
Anastasia Linnik and Rachel Furness in action during the first half at Seaview

Second-half drama

Soon after the restart, lively Liverpool midfielder Furness saw her cross-shot palmed away by the keeper and Lauren Wade was unable to meet the ball at the far post.

The home side's advantage was restored when Julie Nelson appeared to be bundled down inside the area and Furness calmly slotted home the resulting spot-kick.

Belarus fought their way back into the game again in the 67th minute however, as Shcherbachenia ran onto a through ball from Anna Pilipenko and drilled a well-struck drive into the net.

Parity only lasted three minutes as McGuinness' left-foot shot across goal cannoned off the post and bounced off the goalkeeper's head into the net.

A touch of fortune for Northern Ireland, but one they deserved for their superiority.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Friday 27th November 2020

  • N Ireland WomNorthern Ireland3Belarus WomenBelarus Women2
  • PortugalPortugal1ScotlandScotland0
  • Kazakhstan WomenKazakhstan Women0North Macedonia WomenNorth Macedonia Women3
  • Albania WomenAlbania Women4Cyprus WomenCyprus Women0
  • Croatia WomenCroatia Women1Lithuania WomenLithuania Women0
  • GermanyGermany6Greece WomenGreece Women0
  • Estonia WomenEstonia Women0Turkey WomenTurkey Women4
  • RussiaRussia3Kosovo WomenKosovo Women0
  • SpainSpain10Moldova WomenMoldova Women0
  • FranceFrance3AustriaAustria0

As It Stood


3Slovenia Women84042012812
4Kosovo Women9315623-1710
5Turkey Women9126826-185
6Estonia Women8017129-281


3Bos-Herze Wom95041617-115
4Israel Women82151016-67
5Malta Women9216930-217
6Georgia Women9009342-390


3N Ireland Wom73221216-411
4Belarus Women62041112-16
5Faroe Islands Women6006037-370


2Poland Women74211621414
3Czech Rep Wom7412179813
4Moldova Women6105335-323
5Azerbaijan Women6006122-210


1Finland Women54101721513
4Albania Women7205720-136
5Cyprus Women6006022-220


3Slovakia Women7313713-610
4Hungary Women72141119-87
5Latvia Women8008239-370


3Serbia Women740321111012
4North Macedonia Women8206839-316
5Kazakhstan Women7007231-290


3Romania Women73041216-49
4Croatia Women7214718-117
5Lithuania Women8008132-310


2R. of Ireland Wom7412107313
3Ukraine Women74031420-612
4Greece Women8215621-157
5Montenegro Women7007126-250
View full Women's European Championship Qualifying tables

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