Finland 4 Northern Ireland 0
Northern Ireland captain George Saville is left dejected after the defeat to Finland
Jamal Lewis of Northern Ireland, left, is challenged by Rasmus Schuller (Roni Rekomaa/AP)
Finland’s Teemu Pukki celebrates (Roni Rekomaa/AP)
Northern Ireland’s Jamal Lewis with Finland’s Rasmus Schüller during Friday night’s UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifier at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
That’s seven defeats out of nine now for Northern Ireland in the Euro 2024 qualifiers and this one was the worst of the lot.
A crushing and humiliating 4-0 loss to Finland in Helsinki’s freezing Olympic Stadium was not the way to warm Green and White Army hearts.
The only points Michael O’Neill’s team have on the board remain those home and away victories over San Marino.
The plan for the last two Group H games was to Finnish the campaign with a flourish, but defeat here means unless Northern Ireland take something from Monday’s Windsor Park clash with Denmark, they will be pointless apart from those wins against the lowest ranked team on the planet.
On the eve of this international against Finland, O’Neill said he and his players would have to take a long, hard look at themselves if that happened. They’ll be getting the mirrors ready!
It’s been well documented that Northern Ireland have been disadvantaged by a horrendous injury list this year and that young players have had to be thrown into the fray, but six points from a possible 27 is an embarrassing return.
There can be no getting away from that, especially in a group which, with no elite nations, offered O’Neill’s side a genuine chance of reaching the finals in Germany next year.
For the ninth fixture of the campaign it was theRead on belfasttelegraph.co.uk