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Finland 4-0 Norhern Ireland: Injury-hit NI suffer further misery with deflating defeat in Helsinki

George Saville in action against Finland
George Saville in action during the first half of NI’s game against Finland in Helsinki

Injury-hit Northern Ireland’s Euro 2024 qualifying misery continued as they suffered a deflating 4-0 defeat by Finland in Helsinki.

Michael O’Neill’s young side played well in the first half but never recovered from falling behind to a Joel Pohjanpalo penalty just before the break.

Daniel Håkans doubled the hosts’ lead soon after half time, with goals from Teemu Pukki and Robin Lod compounding another sorry night for NI.

They have now lost seven of their nine Group H matches, with their only two victories coming against San Marino, the world’s lowest-ranked side.

That is in a group from which many supporters hoped Northern Ireland could qualify when the draw was made – a feeling that was strengthened when O’Neill was appointed for a second spell in December.

A 550-strong travelling support gave their side tremendous backing at the Olympic Stadium, and would have been encouraged by what they saw from a very inexperienced team in the first 42 minutes.

However, after Northern Ireland fell behind to a penalty that stood after a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check, what followed was an all-too-familiar sorry story for a team that has had to cope with a mounting injury crisis that has robbed them of a host of vital, senior players.

O’Neill said before the game that he was without up to 15 players and, indeed, by handing a debut to Rangers youngster Ross McCausland – himself only a late call-up to the squad on Monday – he was using the 32nd player of this campaign.

The manager had spoken before this game of the importance of providing his young team with positivity as they begin their international journeys, but supporters’ patience is being stretched by a team that has now won just three of their last 16 games – with two of those coming against San Marino.

O’Neill has also said on a few occasions that he is determined to secure a victory against a team other than San Marino in this campaign, but that will now be a hugely-difficult task with top seeds Denmark coming to Belfast for Northern Ireland’s final match on Monday night.

More to follow.



Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Hrádecky
  • 17AlhoSubstituted forPallasat 83′minutes
  • 5Tenho
  • 4Ivanov
  • 16Peltola
  • 14Kairinen
  • 11SchüllerSubstituted forLodat 72′minutes
  • 6Kamara
  • 19JensenSubstituted forPukkiat 60′minutes
  • 20PohjanpaloSubstituted forLingmanat 83′minutes
  • 21HåkansSubstituted forTaylorat 72′minutes


  • 2Hoskonen
  • 3Jensen
  • 7Taylor
  • 8Lod
  • 9Källman
  • 10Pukki
  • 12Sinisalo
  • 13Soiri
  • 15Lingman
  • 18Uronen
  • 22Pallas
  • 23Keto

Northern Ireland

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 12Hazard
  • 5Toal
  • 4Ballard
  • 17McNair
  • 2HumeSubstituted forForbesat 85′minutes
  • 6Saville
  • 15ThompsonSubstituted forSpencerat 77′minutes
  • 3Lewis
  • 8McCauslandSubstituted forWashingtonat 59′minutes
  • 14PriceSubstituted forMarshallat 85′minutes
  • 10CharlesSubstituted forMagennisat 60′minutes


  • 1McMullan
  • 7McMenamin
  • 9Washington
  • 11Jones
  • 13Taylor
  • 16Marshall
  • 18Forbes
  • 19Devlin
  • 20Spencer
  • 21Magennis
  • 22Brown
  • 23Southwood

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