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Burnley 2 Derby 0 match report: Austin on target as Claret extend hoodoo over Rams

Burnley 2 Derby 0: Austin on target as Claret extend hoodoo over Rams

PUBLISHED:

18:04 GMT, 26 December 2012

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UPDATED:

18:04 GMT, 26 December 2012

Charlie Austin scored his 23rd goal
of the season to set Burnley on their way to a first victory in six
npower Championship matches as Derby were beaten 2-0 at Turf Moor.

Austin struck five minutes before
half-time. The former Swindon striker was at his predatory best to turn
the ball into the net after the visitors failed to deal with Kieran
Trippier's cross.

Hot shot: Burney's Charlie Austin

Hot shot: Burney's Charlie Austin

Match facts

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Lafferty, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Paterson (Treacy 62), Ings (Stock 72), Austin (Vokes 68). Subs Not Used: Jensen, Edgar, Mills, Bartley.

Booked: Wallace, McCann, Treacy, Grant.

Goals: Austin 40, Duff 74.

Derby: Legzdins, Brayford, O'Brien (O'Connor 83), Keogh, Roberts, Hughes, Jacobs, Hendrick, Coutts, Bryson (Tyson 65), Sammon (Robinson 72). Subs Not Used: Fielding, Doyle, Davies, Freeman.

Booked: Robinson.

Att: 13,779

Ref: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear).

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Some more poor defending cost the Rams after 74 minutes when Michael Duff headed in the second goal.

In a game of few chances, it was enough to see Burnley maintain their recent stranglehold over Derby. The Clarets are now unbeaten in eight games against the Rams, winning six.

Danny Lafferty returned from injury for the hosts, replacing Joseph Mills at left-back in the only change made by boss Sean Dyche.

Derby manager Nigel Clough also made one change, recalling the fit again Mark O'Brien as James O'Connor dropped back down to the bench.

Rams goalkeeper Adam Legzdins saved early on from Martin Paterson before Chris McCann and Ross Wallace had efforts blocked by Richard Keogh and Conor Sammon respectively.

The visitors replied through Paul Coutts, an old favourite at Burnley's rivals Preston, but Lafferty got in the way of his shot.

Dean Marney headed weakly wide just after the half hour mark from a good far-post position before Austin struck.

Trippier's cross from the right-hand side was not properly cleared and Austin swept a low shot past Legzdins from 12 yards out.

Derby might have equalised before the break but O'Brien headed wide from Michael Jacobs' free-kick.

O'Brien made a block to deny Austin another goal early in the second half and Wallace's shot from the right side of the penalty area hit a post just before the hour.

Austin miscued from close range but Burnley eventually got their second goal when Derby seemingly ignored Duff and he headed in Wallace's corner at the far post.

Substitute Brian Stock worked Legzdins with a long-range effort late on.
Derby substitute Theo Robinson had the last chance of the game but missed the target from 12 yards out as the Rams suffered a seventh away loss in the league this season.

Burnley 1 Blackburn 1: Sam Vokes scores late equaliser

Burnley 1 Blackburn 1: Vokes strikes late as spoils are shared in Lancashire hot pot

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UPDATED:

15:18 GMT, 2 December 2012

Burnley substitute Sam Vokes headed an 89th-minute equaliser to snatch a point against bitter rivals Blackburn in the east Lancashire derby.

The match was billed in some quarters as a shoot-out between Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes and free-scoring Burnley counterpart Charlie

Austin, and the latter found Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson in inspired form.

Late show: Vokes (left) is mobbed after his 89th-minute equaliser

Late show: Vokes (left) is mobbed after his 89th-minute equaliser

MATCH FACTS

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Marney, Stock (Stanislas 75), McCann (Vokes 86),
Wallace, Austin, Paterson (Ings 75).

Subs not used: Jensen, Lafferty, Edgar, Bartley.

Booked: Duff.

Goal: Vokes 89.

Blackburn: Robinson, Henley, Grant Hanley,
Dann, Martin Olsson, Formica (Vukcevic 79), Murphy, Lowe, Pedersen (King 55), Kazim-Richards,
Rhodes.

Subs not used: Kean, Givet, Dunn, Marcus Olsson, Rochina.

Booked: Murphy.

Goal: Rhodes 68.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Attendance: 21,341.

Robinson also did superbly to thwart Martin Paterson and, having weathered the storm, Rovers drove forward after the restart.

They broke through in the 65th minute
when Rhodes caught Burnley's back line flat-footed and found space to
head home Mauro Formica's right-wing cross.

But it was another striker, Wales
international Vokes, who brought Turf Moor to its feet, planting a
free-kick from fellow substitute Junior Stanislas beyond Robinson three
minutes after replacing Chris McCann.

Blackburn have only one win from
seven games since Henning Berg's appointment as manager and lie ninth in
the npower Championship – one point and five places above Burnley.

Dean Marney returned from suspension
to feature in Burnley's midfield at the expense of Marvin Bartley, while
Berg made three anticipated changes to his Rovers line-up.

Jason Lowe, Morten Gamst Pedersen and
Colin Kazim-Richards all lifted a dire display with impressive
second-half cameos in the midweek loss to Bolton and earned starts.

Poultry in motion: A bird wearing a Blackburn flag strolls on to the pitch

Poultry in motion: A bird wearing a Blackburn flag strolls on to the pitch

Poultry in motion: A bird wearing a Blackburn flag strolls on to the pitch

The first opening fell Burnley's way
when Marney's mis-hit shot dropped to Paterson in the area, but the
Northern Ireland forward failed to execute a simple pass to the
onrushing McCann.

Kazim-Richards was extremely
fortunate to escape a card from referee Lee Mason following a late lunge
on Ben Mee – an early demonstration of Blackburn's frustrations during a
first period where they became pinned inside their own half.

Safe hands: Paul Robinson salutes the Blackburn fans

Safe hands: Paul Robinson salutes the Blackburn fans

Opener: Rhodes (right)

Opener: Rhodes (right)

Austin, Burnley and the country's top
scorer, looked to add to his remarkable 21-goal haul this season when
he got on the end of Kieran Trippier's right-wing cross, but Scott Dann
did well to block the shot.

Ross Wallace caught the Rovers
defence napping with a cleverly-worked short corner in the 18th minute.
Robinson beat away his near-post effort and Clarets captain Jason
Shackell thrashed the rebound over.

Wallace stung Robinson's palms from
distance before turning provider with a searching, deep cross that
Austin headed back the way it came to draw a magnificent stop from the
former England goalkeeper.

It was a save he bettered in the 41st
minute, tipping Paterson's shot on the turn from 25 yards away from his
bottom corner at full stretch.

Somehow the Rovers goal remained
intact until the interval and they spent considerably more time in the
Burnley half on the resumption, but Kazim-Richards shanked aimlessly
over from distance.

After Danny Murphy and Dann combined
to muscle Austin out of the decisive touch to a Wallace centre,
Kazim-Richards came much closer as the hour approached – spinning a shot
narrowly wide with the outside of his right foot from the edge of the
area.

Blackburn were undeniably in the
ascendancy and the next time Formica crossed from the right Rhodes stole
in to glance beyond Grant.

Mockery: A Burnley fan shows solidarity to former Blackburn boss Steve Kean

Mockery: A Burnley fan shows solidarity to former Blackburn boss Steve Kean

Controlled and composed periods of
possession appeared to have Rovers playing out the win in relative
comfort until Vokes' late intervention.

The former Wolves man's physical
presence had the Blackburn defence reeling, but when another header flew
over the bar in stoppage time it meant Burnley's 33-year wait for derby
glory had to continue.

Barnsley 1 Burnley 1 – match report: Marcus Tudgay equalises

Barnsley 1 Burnley 1: Tudgay heads home to help Hill's hapless men pick up a point

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 27 November 2012

Barnsley's winless run in the npower Championship shows no sign of ending, but they did at least show spirit in battling back for a point at Oakwell.

It looked like being another evening to forget for the hosts after Charlie Austin's fourth minute header put the Tykes on their way to a fourth successive home defeat.

But, despite a poor first-half showing, Keith Hill's men somehow went in at half-time on level terms when Marcus Tudgay also headed home from 12 yards shortly before the break.

Level terms: Marcus Tudgay scored the equaliser as Barnsley came back to draw

Level terms: Marcus Tudgay scored the equaliser as Barnsley came back to draw

MATCH FACTS

Barnsley: Steele, Cranie, Foster, McNulty, Golbourne, Noble-Lazarus, Greening, Buzsaky, Mellis (O'Brien 81), Davies (Sinclair 79), Tudgay.

Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Dawson, Wiseman, Cywka, Stones.

Goals: Tudgay 37.

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Bartley (Ings 46), McCann, Stock (Edgar 81), Wallace (Vokes 83), Austin, Paterson.

Subs Not Used: Jensen, Lafferty, Stanislas, Stewart.

Booked: Duff.

Goals: Austin 5.

Att: 8,610

Ref: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands).

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However, the draw made it eight games
without a win and unless something changes quickly a relegation battle
seems a certainty in the second half of the campaign.

For Burnley, their goal signalled the
end of a three-game scoring drought for hot-shot Austin, who took his
tally to 21 for season, and they could have been celebrating all three
points but Danny Ings' early second-half effort hit the post.

As it was it ended all square and they remain in mid-table.

The Reds were desperate to end their
barren run and boss Keith Hill made three changes to his side with
Stephen Foster, Akos Buzskay and Reuben Noble-Lazarus handed starts.

Burnley were fresh from an impressive
1-0 win at Hull on Saturday, but they were unable to call on matchwinner
Dean Marney, who was banned, and Sean Dyche made a further two changes,
recalling Kieran Trippier and Marvyn Bartley.

And it was Bartley that almost made an
immediate impact when his goalbound effort from Ross Wallace's cross
was deflected just the wrong side of the post.

But there was no reprieve for Barnsley
from the resulting corner as that man Austin stole in front of his
marker and powered a header home from 10 yards to end his mini-drought.

Both of the goals in the Reds' 2-0
defeat against Cardiff on Saturday came from set-pieces and the manner
of the defending will have done little to lighten Hill's mood.

But then out of nothing, Barnsley
hauled themselves level in the 37th minute. The ball fell to Scott
Golbourne on the left and he whipped in a delicious cross for Tudgay to
head home, leaving the sprawling Lee Grant helpless.

Any hopes that Barnsley had of
continuing their momentum after the break were misplaced as it was
Burnley who began on the front foot and twice went close to regaining
the lead.

First Wallace curled a 20-yard
free-kick that was well saved by Luke Steele and then five minutes later
Steele was beaten by Ings, who had come on as a half-time substitute,
but the right-hand post came to Barnsley's rescue from the drilled
20-yard effort.

The hosts weathered the storm and grew
back into the game with talismanic striker Craig Davies, who had been
unusually quiet, sending an effort from distance just wide and Akos
Buzsaky testing Grant from a similar range.

But they could not rally any further and the game petered out to a tame draw that did little to help Barnsley's plight.

Northern Ireland 1 Azerbaijan 1: David Healy strikes late

Northern Ireland 1 Azerbaijan 1: Healy's late leveller salvages point on frustrating night

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UPDATED:

01:59 GMT, 15 November 2012

David Healy's dramatic late equaliser salvaged a point but may not be enough to rescue Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifying hopes on a night of non-stop frustration for Michael O'Neill at Windsor Park.

The hosts looked like paying for wasting a succession of clear-cut chances, until Healy stepped off the bench and curled a free-kick into the bottom corner seconds from time.

On his 94th appearance, it was the Northern Ireland record marksman's 36th goal but his first since scoring against San Marino four years ago.

At the death: David Healy struck late to help Northern Ireland scrape a point

At the death: David Healy struck late to help Northern Ireland scrape a point

Match facts

Northern Ireland: Carroll, D Lafferty, Cathcart (Healy 81), Hughes, Ferguson, Davis, Baird, McAuley, McGinn (Brunt 66), Shiels (McCourt 55), K Lafferty.

Subs not used: Mannus, Evans, Norwood, Grigg, McGovern.

Booked: K Lafferty, D Lafferty, Baird, Shiels, Healy

Goal: Aliyev 5

Azerbaijan: Salahat Agayev, Levin, Abusov, Ramaldanov (Naziri 72), Medvedev, Gokdemir (Guseynov 63), Huseynov, Amirquliev, Nadirov, Aliyev, Ozkara (Jadarov 78).

Subs not used: Popovich, Sadygov, Chertoganov, Subasic, Ahmadov, Mammadov, Pamuk, Nazirov.

Booked: Agayev, Levin, Huseynov, Aliyev

Goal: Healy 90

Att: 12,327

Ref: Victor Shvetsov (Ukraine)

If the Bury striker's brilliant
set-piece kept Northern Ireland in the hunt for a place at the World Cup
finals in Brazil, their hopes are flickering, at best.

'It was hugely frustrating to create so many clear chances and only end up with a point,' O'Neill said.

'But credit to the players. We were
chasing the game but they never let their heads drop. They kept going to
the very end. We are still in it.'

After dropping two points at home to
Luxembourg, O'Neill's side needed to build on last month's
morale-boosting draw in Portugal.

Instead, they had their manager
tearing his hair out with finishing that had to be seen to be believed.
Kyle Lafferty set the tone early on by heading over from six yards, and
it was to prove costly, as Azerbaijan striker Rauf Aliyev stunned
Windsor Park with a 25-yard drive after five minutes.

Lafferty then failed to control a
Steve Davis pass with the goal at his mercy in the 27th minute, and
Craig Cathcart somehow steered an unchallenged six-yard header wide in
the 31st minute.


Good start: Azerbaijan players celebrate Rauf Aliyev's opening goal

Good start: Azerbaijan players celebrate Rauf Aliyev's opening goal

Cathcart failed again from close
range and Chris Baird continued the tale of woe with a strong contender
for miss of the night on the hour.

There was plenty of competition but
Baird headed wide of a gaping goal from just four yards. Chances
continued to be wasted and Northern Ireland were running out of time but
Healy took responsibility from the edge of the area and buried a
free-kick, to roars of relief from a packed Windsor Park.

Tussle: Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty battles with Azerbaijan's Ali Gokdemir

Tussle: Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty battles with Azerbaijan's Ali Gokdemir

In the nick of time: Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill saw his side scrape a draw

In the nick of time: Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill saw his side scrape a draw

Burnley 2 Wolves 0: Match report

Burnley 2 Wolves 0: Dyche off to a flyer as Paterson and Austin strike

PUBLISHED:

17:29 GMT, 3 November 2012

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UPDATED:

17:29 GMT, 3 November 2012

Sean Dyche's reign as Burnley manager got off to a fine start as a goal in each half deservedly saw off a lacklustre Wolves.

Martin Paterson gave the Clarets an 18th-minute lead and Dean Marney should have doubled the hosts' advantage before half-time.

Charlie Austin was left unattended to head a his 19th goal of an already phenomenal season as Wolves' defence – haphazardly marshalled by their beleaguered captain Roger Johnson – threatened to unravel.

Austin maestro: Charlie Austin (centre) celebrates after scoring the second goal

Austin maestro: Charlie Austin (centre) celebrates after scoring the second goal

Match facts

BURNLEY: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Edgar, Stock, Marney (Stanislas 81), Wallace (Ings 70), Austin, Paterson (Vokes 90). Subs not used: Jensen, Long, Stewart, Lafferty.

Goals: Paterson 18, Austin 53

Booked: Duff, Mee, Wallace

WOLVES: Ikeme, Foley, Berra, Johnson (Edwards 69), Ward, Pennant (Forde 68), Sako, Henry, Doumbia, Doyle, Ebanks-Blake. Subs not used: De Vries, Stearman, Sigurdarson, Batth, Davis.

Booked: Johnson, Ebanks-Blake

Referee: Mark Haywood

Att: 12,295

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Bakary Sako rattled the post from distance for Stale Solbakken's side but they were unable to rally effectively.

A second successive home clean sheet
offers further encouragement for Dyche as he begins his efforts to cure
Burnley's defensive woes this term. Wolves, meanwhile, drop to ninth in
the npower Championship table, one point above their opponents who move
to 13th.

Ross Wallace and Ben Mee returned to
the Burnley line-up following injury and suspension respectively, while
Canada international David Edgar was handed a first start for almost a
month – taking on an unfamiliar midfield role in place of Chris McCann.

Wolves were unchanged from last weekend's 1-1 home draw against Charlton.

In the fifth minute Burnley
centre-back Michael Duff swept the ball forward and, after some neat
interplay, Ross Wallace fizzed a left-footed effort over from the edge
of the box.

Wallace was relieved to see a yellow
card from referee Mark Haywood moments later having clipped the heels of
Kevin Doyle as the Wolves striker broke clear.

Some more patient passing at the back from the hosts was rewarded when they took an the lead.

Left-back Mee spotted the opening,
arching a precise ball around the back of the Wolves back four for
Paterson to dart into the area and slot coolly below Wolves goalkeeper
Carl Ikeme.

Marney should have doubled Burnley's advantage as half-time approached.

Johnson ceded possession to the
former Hull midfielder, who drove straight at Ikeme when squaring to
either Paterson or Austin appeared to be the better option.

Within a minute of that let-off,
Wolves almost levelled when Sako dragged a shot across the face of goal
and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake almost stole in with the vital touch.

Austin collected Brian Stock's pass
and stormed into the box before firing over the angle of post and bar
two minutes into the second period.

The former Swindon man's goal duly
arrived in the 53rd minute as he won a corner and was unmarked to head
home Wallace's delivery.

Johnson was enduring a torrid
afternoon by this stage and was perhaps fortunate to escape with a
booking when he appeared to catch Austin with an elbow.

Sako almost dragged his side back
into the match when he drove forward and slammed a shot against the
upright. Ebanks-Blake and Doyle failed to pick up the scraps.

Another seemingly inevitable lapse from Johnson let in Austin to seal the points after the hour but Ikeme came out on top.

Burnley's momentum was interrupted in
worrying fashion when Wallace went down following an aerial challenge
with Jermaine Pennant, received oxygen on the pitch and left on a
stretcher to be replaced by Danny Ings.

Wolves failed to force the issue as
the clock ran down and Clarets substitute Sam Vokes almost increased the
misery for his former club in stoppage time.

Portugal 1 Northern Ireland 1 match report: Cristiano Ronaldo wins 100th cap

Portugal 1 Northern Ireland 1: McGinn spoils Ronaldo party as O'Neill's men secure superb point

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UPDATED:

22:40 GMT, 16 October 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo reached a personal milestone but was upstaged by a winger of distinctly humbler standing, as Northern Ireland came within 10 minutes of a result to compare with any in their history, here in the Estadio do Dragao.

Ronaldo loooked earmarked for a pivotal role, on his 100th Portugal appearance, but was left staring at a humiliating defeat after Niall McGinn, freed by Celtic in the summer and snapped up by Aberdeen on a two-year contract, fired Northern Ireland into a shock 30th-minute lead.

Breaking the deadlock: Niall McGinn scores the opening goal past Rui Patricio

Breaking the deadlock: Niall McGinn scores the opening goal past Rui Patricio

Oh, happy days: Kyle Lafferty grabs McGinn in front of the Northern Irish faithful

Oh, happy days: Kyle Lafferty grabs McGinn in front of the Northern Irish faithful

Match facts

Portugal: Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira (Eder 74), Bruno Alves, Pepe, Miguel Lopes (Ruben Amorim 46), Veloso, Ruben Micael (Varela 61), Ronaldo, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Postiga. Subs not used: Eduardo, Nelson, Custodio, Pizzi, Nelson Oliveira, Sereno, Luis Neto, Beto.

Scorer: Postiga 79.

Northern Ireland: Carroll, McGivern, Cathcart, Jonathan Evans, Hughes, Baird, Davis, Corry Evans, McGinn, Norwood, Kyle Lafferty. Subs not used: Mannus, Hodson, Shiels, Healy, McCourt, Danny Lafferty, Grigg, Carson, McGovern.

Booked: Hughes.

Scorer: McGinn 30.

Referee: Thorsten Kinhoefer (Germany).

Former Tottenham striker Helder Postiga
finally rescued his side with a scrambled 80th-minute equaliser, but
there was no denying Northern Ireland's right to a point that dented
Portugal's qualification hopes and made a mockery of the 114 places
between the nations in the latest FIFA rankings.

Portugal were made to look
third-rate, rather than third best in the world, by a disciplined,
determined Northern Ireland side marshalled expertly by a brilliant
exhibition of poise and flawless positioning by an inspired Jonny Evans.

Even though Postiga's close-range
leveller denied Northern Ireland a famous victory, there was enough
about the result and performance to leave manager Michael O'Neill
beaming: 'It's for others to say where that ranks alongside what has
happened in the past, but I'm just immensely proud of the effort all the
players put in.

'Everyone played their part, from
Niall scoring a goal worthy of winning the game to Jonny, who looked
like he could slot into any team in the world.

Fans' favourite: Portuguese supporters show their appreciation of Cristiano Ronaldo

Fans' favourite: Portuguese supporters show their appreciation of Cristiano Ronaldo

'I have had Jonny for four games now,
and he has been a joy to work with. He is going to be a leader of men,
within any team he plays for. I have seen that recently with his
performances for Manchester United, and I thought his composure on the
ball and leadership qualities were fantastic.

'The boys are actually very
disappointed they only drew the game, after coming so close to winning.
We knew we would have to defend for our lives at times, and that was the
case in the second half. But then they showed so much character again
to hold on for a point at the end.'

Level pegging: Helder Postiga broke Northern Irish hearts

Level pegging: Helder Postiga broke Northern Irish hearts

Ronaldo's century of appearances was
marked in fitting style. A giant banner, draped over the upper tier of a
stand, hailed him as the best in the world and stretched from one
penalty area to the other, while his 100th cap was presented before
kick-off and doffed to all corners.

Eager though he was to remain the centre of attention, his former Old Trafford colleague Evans had other ideas.

It never rains: Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during a downpour in Porto

It never rains: Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during a downpour in Porto

The United centre-back was imperious
at the heart of Northern Ireland's defence, stretching to cut out a
dangerous Nani cross early on, timing tackles to perfection and showing
remarkable composure in possession.

Repeatedly, he had the self-assurance
to play his way out of trouble, rather than simply clear his lines, and
it led to a 30th-minute breakthrough that stunned a capacity home
crowd.

On the run: Nani escapes the attentions of Oliver Norwood

On the run: Nani escapes the attentions of Oliver Norwood

Surrounded by opponents near the
centre circle, Evans expertly evaded all attempts to disposses him and
slid a pass into the path of Kyle Lafferty. When Lafferty immediately
relayed it to McGinn, the Aberdeen winger was suddenly in on goal for an
opportunity he finished with aplomb.

As Rui Patricio raced from his line,
McGinn clipped a shot beyond him, before sprinting to take the acclaim
of a 1,300-strong travelling support near the corner flag.

Jump to it: Postiga vies with Jonny Evans and keeper Roy Carroll

Jump to it: Postiga vies with Jonny Evans and keeper Roy Carroll

It said much for Northern Ireland's
highly-effective containing job that the closest Portugal came to a
first-half goal was when Craig Cathcart inadvertently volleyed a Joao
Pereira cross against his own bar in the 36th minute.

Sensing the group may be slipping
away from them, after Russia beat Azerbaijan earlier in the day,
Portugal finally found some urgency in the second half, but still left
Roy Carroll untested until the 59th minute.

Clearing his lines: Bruno Alves makes no mistake

Clearing his lines: Bruno Alves makes no mistake

The Olympiacos keeper was up to the
task, as he instinctively stuck out a boot to block a low shot from
Ronaldo, following a right-wing cross by Nani.

Cathcart was living dangerously at
times and went perilously close to an own goal again in the 63rd minute,
slicing an attempted clearance and seeing the ball loop over Carroll
and land on the roof of the net.

Ganging up: Lafferty skips away from three Portuguese

Ganging up: Lafferty skips away from three Portuguese

Mounting home pressure at last
yielded its reward in the 80th minute, as substitute Varela headed back a
deep cross and Postiga forced the ball home from close range.

Portugal may claim their improved
second half performance merited as much, but one thing was beyond
dispute. Northern Ireland had thoroughly deserved any luck that went
their way.

Northern Ireland 1 Luxembourg 1

Northern Ireland 1 Luxembourg 1: O'Neill's side denied victory after late equaliser

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UPDATED:

20:50 GMT, 11 September 2012

Northern Ireland had to accept a demoralising draw against Luxembourg after a match they dominated ended with the visitors scoring a heavily deflected equaliser in the 86th minute.

Things had started so promisingly for Michael O'Neill's side, with Dean Shiels claiming his first international goal with a deft finish in the 14th minute.

The hosts had nearly all of the meaningful chances, with three efforts disallowed by the officials and Chris Brunt hitting the post before Daniel Da Mota's shot squirmed home via Ryan McGivern's shoulder.

More to follow….

Box of tricks: Shiels (right) celebrates with Kyle Lafferty after scoring for Northern Ireland

Box of tricks: Shiels (right) celebrates with Kyle Lafferty after scoring for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland 3 Finland 3 match report: Martin Paterson hits late penalty

Northern Ireland 3 Finland 3: Late penalty earns O'Neill fraught draw

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UPDATED:

23:27 GMT, 15 August 2012

Martin Paterson's 84th-minute penalty earned Northern Ireland an entertaining draw in a see-saw friendly encounter against Finland at Windsor Park.

Having failed to score in both of manager Michael O'Neill's previous matches, the goals finally came tonight – Shane Ferguson and Paterson opening their international accounts and the returning Kyle Lafferty underlining his importance with his ninth senior strike.

Northern Ireland were 2-0 ahead after a bright start but two goals in as many minutes from Tim Sparv and Teemu Pukki, followed by an unstoppable second-half free-kick from Perparim Hetemaj, left them needing Paterson's late intervention.

Yes: Paterson

On target: Martin Paterson levels from the penalty spot

Match facts

Northern Ireland: Carroll (Camp 46), Hodson (Norwood 84), Cathcart, McAuley, McGivern, Brunt (Ward 46), Baird, Davis, Ferguson (Carson 84), Shiels, Kyle Lafferty (Paterson 63). Subs not used: McPake, Little, Danny Lafferty, Clingan, Grigg, Mannus.

Scorers: Ferguson 7, Lafferty 19, Paterson (pen) 84.

Finland: Maenpaa, Uronen, Toivio, Arkivuo, Moisander, Roman Eremenko, Hamalainen (Kolehmainen 69), Sparv, Alexei Eremenko (Hetemaj 69), Pukki (Riski 46), Kuqi (Sjolund 84). Subs not used: Sillanpaaa, Ojala, Vayrynen, Furuholm, Halsti, Porokara.

Scorers: Sparv 22, Pukki 24, Hetemaj 78.

Referee: Richard Liesveld (Holland).

Attendance: 9,575.

Northern Ireland were playing for the first time in a new home kit bearing a design based on their 1980s glory days.

Expectations are a little lower than that now, but after O'Neill's tenure began with 3-0 and 6-0 defeats by Norway and Holland something positive was required here.

Another nod to the past came in the form of Olympiacos goalkeeper Roy Carroll, recalled in place of Lee Camp for his first start in six years.

Elsewhere, Chris Baird, Chris Brunt and Lafferty made their first appearances for O'Neill having previously been unavailable.

Finland put together the first coherent move of the match, Roman and Alexei Eremenko linking well in midfield but unable to produce a final ball.

Northern Ireland's first chance resulted in the opener after seven minutes.

Rangers'
Dean Shiels, attempting to prove he can combine life in the basement of
Scottish football with a World Cup qualifying campaign, battled for the
ball down the right channel and saw his deflected pass across goal fall
for Ferguson.

Level pegging: Roy Carroll is livid after Teemu Pukki hit Finland's second

Level pegging: Roy Carroll is livid after Teemu Pukki hit Finland's second

The ball
took a bounce off the Newcastle man, who then showed superb technique
to lash home a powerful left-footed shot at the near post.

O'Neill, having previously drawn two blanks, looked visibly relieved in the technical area.
Finland almost produced a swift response but Craig Cathcart made a fine late challenge to dispossess Pukki.

With 19 minutes gone, the hosts were two ahead through Lafferty.

Again
Shiels played his part, taking down Lee Hodson's lofted ball with the
outside of his boot before whipping a cross into the six-yard area.

They thought they'd won: Finland players celebrate with Perparim Hetemaj after he scores their third

They thought they'd won: Finland players celebrate with Perparim Hetemaj after he scores their third

Lafferty battled to get the first touch and bundled over the line under pressure from Joona Toivio.
This
time Finland were able to respond in kind, taking just three minutes
before Kari Arkivuo's cross was expertly headed home by a straining
Sparv.

Having pulled one back, the visitors drew level just two minutes later.

This
time Northern Ireland were entirely to blame, Roman Eremenko doing the
prompting and Brunt taking a loose ball on his chest before casually
rolling the ball back into his own penalty area.

The back four were caught cold, leaving the waiting Pukki alone to roll his shot past Carroll via the post.

The quickfire double lifted the Finns who dictated the pace until the interval.

Njazi
Kuqi was closest to adding to the scoring, curling right-footed just
past the far post, while Brunt's speculative cross-shot was his side's
best riposte.

O'Neill made two changes at the interval, Camp on for Carroll and Derby's Jamie Ward earning a second cap in place of Brunt.

Hard fought: Joona Toivio vies with Kyle Lafferty

Hard fought: Joona Toivio vies with Kyle Lafferty

Northern
Ireland nearly began the second half with a goal, Ryan McGivern
galloping down the left flank and picking out Shiels, who took a touch
before pushing his shot across the face of goal.

The
game continued to produce chances, Finland keeper Niki Maenpaa
mis-kicking a hopeful long ball from Ward under pressure from Lafferty.

The Sion striker was first to react and quickly pulled the ball back for the onrushing Shiels, whose shot was smothered.

At
the other end Toivio's 63rd-minute header may have struck a hand before
being cleared by Ward on the post but Finland's penalty appeals were
not upheld.

Substitute
Riku Riski was close to putting his side in front for the first time in
the 70th minute when he deftly lifted Toni Kolehmainen's pass beyond
Camp and towards goal.

Fortunately for the hosts, Gareth McAuley was chasing back and able to flick the ball back away from danger.

Eight
minutes later Finland did find their third, McGivern penalised for a
foul 20 yards out and Hetemaj sending a rocket of a free-kick in off the
upright.

The late penalty rescued O'Neill's side, Steven Davis surging towards the area and teeing up substitute Paterson.

The Burnley man went to ground without too much resistance but earned the penalty against Toivio nonetheless.

He took the spot-kick himself, drilling hard and low for his first goal in 14 caps.

Northern Ireland 3 Finland 3: Paterson"s late penalty gives O"Neill"s men share of the spoils

Northern Ireland 3 Finland 3: Paterson's late penalty gives O'Neill's men share of the spoils

|

UPDATED:

20:59 GMT, 15 August 2012

Martin Paterson's 84th-minute penalty earned Northern Ireland an entertaining draw in a see-saw friendly encounter against Finland at Windsor Park.

Having failed to score in both of manager Michael O'Neill's previous matches, the goals finally came tonight – Shane Ferguson and Paterson opening their international accounts and the returning Kyle Lafferty underlining his importance with his ninth senior strike.

Northern Ireland were 2-0 ahead after a bright start but two goals in as many minutes from Tim Sparv and Teemu Pukki, followed by an unstoppable second-half free-kick from Perparim Hetemaj, left them needing Paterson's late intervention.

Yes: Paterson

On target: Martin Paterson levels from the penalty spot

Northern Ireland were playing for the first time in a new home kit bearing a design based on their 1980s glory days.

Expectations are a little lower than that now, but after O'Neill's tenure began with 3-0 and 6-0 defeats by Norway and Holland something positive was required here.

Another nod to the past came in the form of Olympiacos goalkeeper Roy Carroll, recalled in place of Lee Camp for his first start in six years.

Elsewhere, Chris Baird, Chris Brunt and Lafferty made their first appearances for O'Neill having previously been unavailable.

Finland put together the first coherent move of the match, Roman and Alexei Eremenko linking well in midfield but unable to produce a final ball.

Level pegging: Roy Carroll is livid after Teemu Pukki hit Finland's second

Level pegging: Roy Carroll is livid after Teemu Pukki hit Finland's second

Northern Ireland's first chance resulted in the opener after seven minutes.

Rangers'
Dean Shiels, attempting to prove he can combine life in the basement of
Scottish football with a World Cup qualifying campaign, battled for the
ball down the right channel and saw his deflected pass across goal fall
for Ferguson.

The ball
took a bounce off the Newcastle man, who then showed superb technique
to lash home a powerful left-footed shot at the near post.

O'Neill, having previously drawn two blanks, looked visibly relieved in the technical area.
Finland almost produced a swift response but Craig Cathcart made a fine late challenge to dispossess Pukki.

With 19 minutes gone, the hosts were two ahead through Lafferty.

Again
Shiels played his part, taking down Lee Hodson's lofted ball with the
outside of his boot before whipping a cross into the six-yard area.

They thought they'd won: Finland players celebrate with Perparim Hetemaj after he scores their third

They thought they'd won: Finland players celebrate with Perparim Hetemaj after he scores their third

Lafferty battled to get the first touch and bundled over the line under pressure from Joona Toivio.
This
time Finland were able to respond in kind, taking just three minutes
before Kari Arkivuo's cross was expertly headed home by a straining
Sparv.

Having pulled one back, the visitors drew level just two minutes later.

This
time Northern Ireland were entirely to blame, Roman Eremenko doing the
prompting and Brunt taking a loose ball on his chest before casually
rolling the ball back into his own penalty area.

The back four were caught cold, leaving the waiting Pukki alone to roll his shot past Carroll via the post.

The quickfire double lifted the Finns who dictated the pace until the interval.

Njazi
Kuqi was closest to adding to the scoring, curling right-footed just
past the far post, while Brunt's speculative cross-shot was his side's
best riposte.

O'Neill made two changes at the interval, Camp on for Carroll and Derby's Jamie Ward earning a second cap in place of Brunt.

Hard fought: Joona Toivio vies with Kyle Lafferty

Hard fought: Joona Toivio vies with Kyle Lafferty

Northern
Ireland nearly began the second half with a goal, Ryan McGivern
galloping down the left flank and picking out Shiels, who took a touch
before pushing his shot across the face of goal.

The
game continued to produce chances, Finland keeper Niki Maenpaa
mis-kicking a hopeful long ball from Ward under pressure from Lafferty.

The Sion striker was first to react and quickly pulled the ball back for the onrushing Shiels, whose shot was smothered.

At
the other end Toivio's 63rd-minute header may have struck a hand before
being cleared by Ward on the post but Finland's penalty appeals were
not upheld.

Substitute
Riku Riski was close to putting his side in front for the first time in
the 70th minute when he deftly lifted Toni Kolehmainen's pass beyond
Camp and towards goal.

Fortunately for the hosts, Gareth McAuley was chasing back and able to flick the ball back away from danger.

Eight
minutes later Finland did find their third, McGivern penalised for a
foul 20 yards out and Hetemaj sending a rocket of a free-kick in off the
upright.

The late penalty rescued O'Neill's side, Steven Davis surging towards the area and teeing up substitute Paterson.

The Burnley man went to ground without too much resistance but earned the penalty against Toivio nonetheless.

He took the spot-kick himself, drilling hard and low for his first goal in 14 caps.

Steven Whittaker happy with move to Norwich

Whittaker happy with his move to Norwich, despite threat of legal action

|

UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 1 July 2012

Steven Whittaker has brushed aside the threat of a Rangers legal challenge to his Premiership switch to Norwich City.

Sevco chief executive Charles Green has vowed to pursue players who have either quit – or are quitting – the stricken club under Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) legislation.

Heading to England: Steven Whittaker (left) happy with Norwich move

Heading to England: Steven Whittaker (left) happy with Norwich move

Whittaker joined Norwich on Saturday and the canaries are also interested in Burnley midfielder Chris McCann, 24, but the exodus at Rangers continues.

Kyle Lafferty has signed for Swiss club FC Sion.

Allan McGregor is interesting Hull City, Jamie Ness has joined Stoke and John Fleck is Coventry bound.

With Steven Naismith wanted by Everton and Steven Davis also poised to find a new club this week, the SFA face a glut of applications for the transfer of player registrations, despite Rangers' opposition.

Privately, the governing body's legal advice is that the players are free to go.

To be certain, however, they have sought FIFA guidance and backing amid fears of a court battle with Green.

'I think it will be OK,' said Whittaker. 'As far as I'm aware, the SFA are holding my registration because the old club was liquidated and the new club hasn't got the registrations yet.

'So the registration has been applied for and I hope now it will be granted and I can continue with my career.'

Defending his position: Whittaker (left)

Defending his position: Whittaker (left)

The Rangers stars tried repeatedly to seek firm guidance on their situation via players' union PFA Scotland.

Despite private assurances from the SFA, however, there was a dearth of information available.

'There was a lot of uncertainty about it all towards the end and not a lot of information coming our way,' Whittaker explained.

'We would try to find out stuff from the administrators and the SFA but no one was forthcoming with answers.

'I think that was because they didn't really know. This is an unprecedented situation and that was hard for all the players.'

Handed a four-year deal at Norwich, Whittaker's wife is expecting their first child in September and are currently in the English city planning their future.

One of those asked to accept a 75-per-cent wage cut when Rangers went into administration in February, the Scotland international decided to leave amidst huge uncertainty over the newco's situation.

Facing the likelihood of starting next season in either the First or Third Divisions with a wage bill the fledgling club simply can't afford, the probability of further departures can't be ruled out simply to balance the books.

Hull interest: Allan McGregor could head south of the border

Hull interest: Allan McGregor could head south of the border

For those players who remain, lower-league football and no European involvement has now become a best-case scenario.

'It's hard to say how Rangers should be punished,' added Whittaker.

'The players will feel it most, yet they did nothing to bring it on. They will be punished hardest, be it through dropping down a league or having wages cut.

'Obviously, a lot of people feel that, after what happened, they deserve to be punished in some shape or form.

'Nobody knows what lies ahead for the players. I hope they will adjust to the situation, but the one certainty is the guys will give it their best shot, whatever happens.'

Conceding that he took a calculated gamble in walking away from a five-year contract worth 20,000 a week, the former Hibs player can now prepare for life in the world's most feted league.

In contrast, the SPL faces grave uncertainty and an unprecedented situation.

'It was a bit of a risk for me,' Whittaker admitted.

'I had a long contract at Rangers and I could have changed it over. But we didn't have any idea what level of football the club would be able to offer us.

'Privately, I was always confident and hopeful there would be something out there for me. So I was willing to take that chance and have faith I could get something decent.

'The competition in England will be harder than it was in the SPL. Every game will be as tough as the last one and it's going to be a very different challenge to the one I've been used to with Rangers in Scotland.

'I have played in the SPL all my career and sometimes you can get a bit stale.

'In England, you play the other teams twice, home and away. That is definitely a very different challenge.'