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Northern Ireland top despite Finland equaliser

Finland 1-1 Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland clinched first place in a UEFA EURO qualifying group for the first time but were denied victory by a late Paulus Arajuuri equaliser.

Highlights: Finland 1-1 N.Ireland
  • Qualifiers Northern Ireland top Group F with point in Finland
  • Craig Cathcart's header cancelled out in 87th minute by Paulus Arajuuri
  • Finland finish fourth

Northern Ireland made history by clinching top spot in a UEFA EURO qualifying group for the first time but had to settle for a point in Finland after a late Paulus Arajuuri equaliser.

Following a quiet start, the visitors – who qualified on Thursday by beating Greece – had the first chance when Stuart Dallas picked up the ball from the Finland defence, but Lukas Hradecky did well to save. Finland captain Tim Sparv then shot fiercely just off target and, soon after, Kyle Lafferty was unable to control as he sought an eighth qualifying goal.

Despite that miss, Northern Ireland went ahead on 31 minutes, Craig Cathcart's header from Paddy McNair's cross leaving Hradecky no chance. Finland created a couple of half chances before the interval and began the second period brightly too, Joel Pohjanpalo shooting narrowly over from ten metres.

The visitors were playing without risk and seemed set for victory, only for centre-back Paulus Arajuuri to shoot in with three minutes to go. Still, Northern Ireland can look forward to their finals bow in France.