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Romania hold Northern Ireland to stay top

Northern Ireland 0-0 Romania
Anghel Iordanescu's men survived a stern test in Belfast to maintain their one-point Group F leadership over the hosts.

Highlights: N.Ireland 0-0 Romania

Romania maintain Group F lead after draw at second-placed Northern Ireland
Hosts dominate second half but cannot find winner to go top
Anghel Iordanescu's men still undefeated after fifth clean sheet of campaign
Michael O'Neill's side two points clear of third-placed Hungary
Next qualifiers: Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland, Hungary v Romania (4 September)

Romania preserved their one-point cushion at the top of UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group F after holding second-placed Northern Ireland in Belfast.

Anghel Iordanescu's men brought a narrow advantage into the encounter and looked like extending it to four points following a strong opening. However, the home team battled back and went close a number of times in the second period but eventually settled for a point which leaves them two above third-placed Hungary.

With Romania unbeaten in the section and having won both previous away games without conceding, it was no surprise to see them on the front foot early on. Claudiu Keșerü crashed a free-kick wide from an improbable distance while diminutive winger Gabriel Torje jinked his way into the home area only to flay his effort over the bar. The No11 was a constant menace and another breakneck dribble allowed him to set up Alexandru Chipciu, who was off target. The same man was played through once more but failed to catch his shot on the turn.

If the first half-hour belonged to Romania, the rest of the half was the hosts'. Kyle Lafferty lashed wide and Jonny Evans saw a header tipped over as the Windsor Park faithful roared on Michael O'Neill's side.

The men in green came out with renewed vigour in the second period and midfielder Stuart Dallas twice went very close from the edge of the box before Lafferty sent a towering header over. Northern Ireland appeared the more likely scorers yet through Torje, Romania always posed a threat. He pounced on a stray Gareth McAuley pass though his low strike deflected centimetres wide off Evans.

There was a rousing finish from the Northern Irish as Ciprian Tătăruşanu denied Lafferty when the ball dropped to the forward ten metres from goal, before expertly tipping over Oliver Norwood's thunderbolt of a free-kick. Romania held out, however, meaning the teams signed off for summer with a point apiece.