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Ten-man Northern Irish snatch Hungary draw

Northern Ireland 1-1 Hungary
Kyle Lafferty struck late on to earn a draw that leaves the hosts on the verge of UEFA EURO 2016 despite Chris Baird's earlier red card.

Highlights: N.Ireland 1-1 Hungary
  • Kyle Lafferty scores late to cancel out Richárd Guzmics' first goal for Hungary
  • Chris Baird booked twice for incidents in same phase of play
  • Michael O'Neill's men miss chance to become fourth side to qualify for UEFA EURO 2016
  • Hungary stretch unbeaten run to seven group games
  • Next games: Northern Ireland v Greece, Hungary v Faroe Islands (8 October)

Kyle Lafferty pounced on an error from Gábor Király three minutes into stoppage time to earn leaders Northern Ireland a share of the qualifying Group F spoils in Belfast.

The home side began the night with hopes of sealing a win and, with it, qualification for UEFA EURO 2016. Those aspirations were dampened when Richard Guzmics struck 16 minutes from time, then apparently dashed when Chris Baird saw red not long after. Lafferty's intervention, though, leaves the Northern Irish with a one-point cushion at the top of the table.

Although Northern Ireland dominated the opening exchanges, Balázs Dzsudzsák was first to threaten as his low drive flashed wide. Clear chances were at a premium for Michael O'Neill's team yet they continued plugging away and started the second half with renewed purpose, Lafferty twice going close to connecting with passes.

Richard Guzmics makes it 1-0
Richard Guzmics makes it 1-0©AFP/Getty Images

The game opened up, Zoltán Gera hinting at a breakthrough before Zsolt Kalmár tested Michael McGovern's palms with a vicious free-kick. Suddenly Hungary were on top and – unlike Northern Ireland – they made it count as McGovern spilled Dzsudzsák's free-kick and Guzmics knocked in the rebound from close range.

The hosts' night duly went from bad to worse as Baird was booked twice for two fouls within the same phase of play – France next summer all of a sudden felt far away. Lafferty edged his country back closer, though, reacting first when Király failed to hold on and rifling a shot into the roof of the net.

Northern Ireland can seal progress at home to Greece in Belfast next month, though they will be without Lafferty after he was booked here. Third-placed Hungary, who remain three points shy of Romania in second, will be at home to the Faroe Islands.