Faroe Islands 1-3 Northern Ireland Defender Gareth McAuley struck in each half as Northern Ireland's Group F qualification ambitions received a massive boost at the Tórsvøllur.
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- Northern Ireland top Group F with 16 points
- Gareth McAuley nets twice; also scored against Faroes last October
- Lafferty hits sixth UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying goal – joint-second in scorers chart
- Edmundsson gets equaliser but then sent off
- Next games: Finland v Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland v Hungary (7 September)
Northern Ireland edged closer to UEFA EURO 2016 qualification as two Gareth McAuley headers saw off a stubborn ten-man Faroe Islands side in Torshavn.
The 3-1 victory took Michael O'Neill's men top of Group F, above Romania who were held in Hungary, yet it also owed something to Faroese forward Jóan Edmundsson. Having earlier cancelled out McAuley's 12th-minute opener, Edmundsson's second booking midway through the second half left the Faroes a man light for the remaining 25 minutes.
The hosts' resilience promptly crumbled six minutes later when McAuley stooped to head his second of the game – and third against the Faroes in Group F. Kyle Lafferty added another to clinch a hard-earned success that moved Northern Ireland to the group summit with three games to play. Crucially, Northern Ireland are four points clear of their next opponents, third-placed Hungary, and are within touching distance of reaching their first UEFA European Championship.
West Bromwich Albion defender McAuley had guided a low Oliver Norwood set piece past Gunnar Nielsen for his early first goal as the visitors began the quicker. A steady flow of corners and controlled defensive play signalled their superiority until they were undone by a long throw. Ragnar Nattestad gained control in the area and squared for the well-positioned Edmundsson to tap home the equaliser.
With the contest in the balance following a half of few chances, Edmundsson's dismissal altered the momentum in favour of the away team. McAuley struck and then Lafferty showed the composure of a man ranked the second-top marksman in qualifying by turning in the third. Nielsen was forced into late action when he palmed Josh Magennis's fierce attempt onto the post as Northern Ireland collected a vital three points.