Nations League: Jonny Evans salvages last-gasp draw with Cyprus for winless NI
A 93rd-minute equaliser by Jonny Evans salvaged a 2-2 draw for Northern Ireland with Cyprus but the result stretched the home side’s winless run in the Nations League to 14 matches.
A section of the home crowd had chanted ‘we want Bara [NI boss Ian Baraclough] out’ soon after Andronikos Kakoulli scored his second goal in the 51st minute to put the visitors 2-0 up.
Paddy McNair bundled home for the hosts in the 71st minute, sparking a late attacking flurry in which they missed chances before Evans’ strike.
While the equaliser rescued Northern Ireland from an embarrassing home defeat, there were boos from the home crowd at half-time and some muted boos at the end of a game that leaves NI third in Group C2 and level on two points with bottom side Cyprus after an opening quadruple-header of matches from which Baraclough had set a target of four wins.
It was another hugely disappointing result for Northern Ireland, who have now won just three times in 20 competitive matches under Baraclough, who stepped up to the senior side from the Under 21s two years ago.
Travelling supporters had chanted ‘cheerio’ to Baraclough at the end of Thursday night’s 3-2 defeat in Kosovo, with that defeat coming after a drab 1-0 home loss to Greece at Windsor Park and a flat scoreless draw away to Cyprus last Sunday.
The NI manager had said coming into the home meeting with the Cypriots that he had broad enough shoulders to handle any criticism, and once again had asked for patience with he says is a building process with a young squad.
Having got relegated from the second tier, Northern Ireland now face a battle to avoid dropping into the fourth when they host Kosovo and travel to Greece in their final two games in September.
The visitors’ first goal arrived in the 32nd minute when terrible marking by the home defence allowed Kakoulli to rise unmarked in the box to flick on a Chambos Kyriakou free-kick beyond the outstretched Trevor Carson, who was selected in goal instead of regular keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell..
Their second came on 51 minutes. There was hesitancy from Brodie Spencer as Dimitris Christofi ran at the home defence, leading to Marinos Tzionis scuffing a shot across goal that beat Trevor Carson and allowed Kakoulli to tap into an empty net for his second of the game. There was a VAR check for offside but it only prolonged the home supporters’ agony.
It was looking ominous for Baraclough and his players as the game entered the final 20 minutes, but McNair offered them hope when he
More to follow.
- 21SpencerSubstituted forBradleyat 69′minutes
- 8DavisBooked at 68mins
- 9LaverySubstituted forWhyteat 58′minutes
- 20CharlesSubstituted forThompsonat 59′minutes
- 13McMenaminSubstituted forMcGinnat 69′minutes
- 10LaffertySubstituted forCharlesat 69′minutes
- 19LaifisBooked at 69minsSubstituted forIoannouat 69′minutes
- 23PittasSubstituted forPanagiotouat 45′minutes
- 21TzionisSubstituted forPapoulisat 58′minutes
- 14KakoullisSubstituted forKatelarisat 78′minutes
- Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea
Match ends, Northern Ireland 2, Cyprus 2.
Second Half ends, Northern Ireland 2, Cyprus 2.
Foul by Jordan Thompson (Northern Ireland).
Fotios Papoulis (Cyprus) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jordan Thompson.
Offside, Cyprus. Fotios Papoulis tries a through ball, but Dimitrios Christofi is caught offside.
Goal! Northern Ireland 2, Cyprus 2. Jonny Evans (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Dion Charles with a headed pass.
Attempt missed. Gavin Whyte (Northern Ireland) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Patrick McNair with a cross.
Attempt missed. Danny Ballard (Northern Ireland) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jordan Thompson with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Charalambos Kyriakou.
Attempt missed. Jordan Thompson (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Dion Charles.
Attempt missed. Conor Bradley (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Jordan Thompson with a through ball.
Substitution, Cyprus. Fanos Katelaris replaces Andronikos Kakoullis.
Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland) hits the bar with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Ciaron Brown.
Attempt saved. Dion Charles (Northern Ireland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Conor Bradley.
Goal! Northern Ireland 1, Cyprus 2. Patrick McNair (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner.
Attempt saved. Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Dion Charles.
Offside, Cyprus. Charalambos Kyriakou tries a through ball, but Dimitrios Christofi is caught offside.
Substitution, Northern Ireland. Conor Bradley replaces Brodie Spencer.