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  • 18 November 2023

Finland vs Northern Ireland: Can Northern Ireland Make It Today?

Currently, Northern Ireland has made a total of 7 changes since they lost a match against Slovenia. For a starter, Hazard steps in for Bailey Peacock-Farrell as a goalkeeper; meanwhile, Balland and McNAIR act as central defenders. Hume and Toal play as full-backs, and Thomson, Saville, and Price are now free to perform duties in the middle. Finally, McCauslands comes in on the wing – with Taylor on the bench and Charles for Magennus – up front.

Finland is also adjusting its squad after losing out to Kazakhstan in their Euro 2024 qualifier. This means they changed their formation – three center-backs to two by sitting out Hoskonen and Richard Jensen. Peltola plays as a left-back while joining Tenho as a centre-back and plays in front of Ivanov. A substitution occurs towards the center of the field, with Schuller coming on instead of Taylor. The change in management starts at the top as Puku becomes the new striker and shuffles down Pohjanpalo from the wing to a forw

Let’s take a look at today’s match highlights:

First-half begins!!

  • By the 3rd minute of play, a combination between Lewis and Price leads to another opportunity to score for their teams’ sake. This ends up giving them a corner kick.
  • However, Price’s cross into the box goes over and out of everybody and results in a goal kick. Almost, McNair makes it to the point.
  • Finland dominated possession early on in the game by the 5th minute, but they had difficulty cracking the resolute Northern Ireland rearguard. Hakans foul Saville to award them a free-kick.
  • In the 6th minute, Price shoots after taking an opportunity when a defender makes a mistake.
  • In the 9th minute, though, Charles gets a long ball that he turns and spins past Tenho for the foul. A Finnish defender merely receives a verbal caution from the referee rather than a yellow card.
  • Saville gets back the ball for his side and plays a long pass cross in the box, which is head away by Pelta.
  • In the 13th minute, nearer to Finish’s box, Kairinen shoots, which Thompson blocks, but Jensens’ following cross is punched by Hazard.
  • In the 14th minute, Kairinen’s corner kick that goes in unchecked by the opposition team. The ball goes to Schuller, who misfires on a shot. However, Pohjanpalo makes a move and almost gets to score but Hazard stops him.
  • In the 16th minute, Lewis & Saville combine on a move down the left wing. Nevertheless, Saville’s pass fails to find its receiver and Finland retains possession again.
  • Northern Ireland has an impressive start to the match but cannot penetrate the Finnish defense in the 20th minute. More comprehensive positions for their attacks, and Charles receives most crosses into the box.
  • Despite this, Northern Ireland can score in the 22nd minute. Charles makes a spectacular movement that sees him dodge a teammate and pass to Hume on the right wing.
  • Humes cross finds Price, but Finland’s poor defense results in Price shooting across. The loose ball finally gets to Saville by the box's outer edge but misses with a long-range shot.
  • In the 24th minute, Hazard takes a free kick and tries to pass the ball into the box to connect with his teammate Charles for a shot.
  • Charles does not reach him, and Hradecky picks up the ball. Both teams are happy with their progress after 26 minutes into the Euro 2024 grueling qualifiers. So far, there were some opportunities for both sides, but neither Hazard nor Hradecky had many challenges.
  • In the 32nd minute of playtime, Kamara runs down the left flank, beats McCausland, and sends a low cross into the field that later becomes clear through Northern Ireland’s defense.
  • However, at the 36th minute, most of the game still seems relatively quiet until another Hazard’s free-kick enters the Northern Ireland’s box. This time, it involves Charles’s spinning shot which Hradecky effortlessly.
  • In four minutes, McCausland flaunts his craft and dodges past the Finnish defenders before giving a pass for Charles in the 38th minute which Rantanen catches. However, he had a remarkable performance for that day within a relatively dull event.
  • Hakan delivers a cross into the box in the 40th minute, only for Jensen to stop it. Afterwards, Finland gets penalized. Price fouled Alho even as Northern Ireland cleared the ball.
  • In the 42nd minute of the game, however, Pohjanpola scored a goal for Finland putting them at 1-0. Instead, he cool-headedly converts the spot kick on the blind side of Hazard who was deceived to dive the wrong way for it to end up in the bottom left corner of the net.
  • A good cross by Thompson in the 45th minute heads towards the penalty area. With a header directed at the net, he hits the ballard successfully.
  • Hradecky fearlessly collects the ball and denies any attempt at an opposing goal. A temporary break is called for as the offside.
  • The officials announce an extra minute (45minute + 1) on which the two sides of the game move into a half time with Finland leading 1 – 0 against Northern Ireland.

Second-half begins!!!

  • Finland scores another goal in the 48^{th} minute and now stands at 2 – 0. Hakans scores one for the team to make it 3-0 with a fantastic finish after beating Humes and several Northern Ireland players. After that, he combines one-two with Kamara and finally goes to the left of the penalty box.
  • Accurately and strongly, Hakans fires at the goalpost that, hits the post and ends behind the net. The remarkable combination of Kamara and Hakans is too much for goalkeeper Hazard.
  • At minute 54, Balland of Northern Ireland tries to link a bent cross from the left-hand area. Unfortunately, he fails to reach it and it bounces safely through to the danger zone for those playing against them. Northern Ireland has been creating chances but cannot score.
  • In the 56th minute, they play a direct pass sending a ball into the penalty area but Finland needs to clear it better. Saville takes control and sprints down the left side of the box, only for him to produce an attempt that narrowly misses.
  • In the 57th minute, Hume produces a long kick into the box involving a collision between Ballard and Hradecky. After that, Charles targets for the goal while off position and Hradecky clears it with his head.
  • After a good performance on the right side in the 59th minute, Northern Ireland made a substitution and replaced McCausland for Washington.
  • In the 60th minute, Northern Ireland’s only forward, Charlie, is replaced by Magennis who joins Washington up front.
  • Finland crosses a ball in the 67th minute towards Ballard, who rises above Pohjanpalo and Pukki to clear the ball outside.
  • Magennis held the ball in the 69th minute and gave it to Price on the right, whose low cross went into the box.
  • The 71st minute sees Lewis partnering with Saville, operating within Finland’s half. Rather than shooting, he passes it on to Washington. However, he makes a low cutback thwarted by the Finnish defence.
  • In the 72nd minute, Finland made a few substitutes for Hakans that made their second goal while cheering from the supporters.
  • Finland substitutes Schuller with Lod in the 72nd minute of the game.
  • The third goal for Finland came in the 73rd minute after Pukki managed to get into the opponent’s net. Taylor, who has just been subbed on, sets up the goal for Pukki who scores with an impressive finish after dribbling through defender’s legs.
  • The substitute for Northern Ireland comes in from Thompson in the 77th minute and Spencer replaces him following difficulties experienced on the pitch.
  • In the 79th minute, Northern Ireland’s Ballard tries a flamboyant shot after receiving a pass from Saville but hits the cross bar.
  • Finland substituted Pohjanpalo in the 83rd minute and was replaced by Lingman, who had scored their initial goal. Shortly afterward, another change occurred as Alho, with his tremendous defensive effort for Finland, was taken off and replaced by Pallas.
  • It was in the 85th minute that Forbes replaced Hume and thus, made his bow for Northern Ireland. At this point in the game, Marshall came on for price, another of Northern Ireland’s top performers.
  • Both teams also made tactical changes as the game went on, and in the 88th minute, Finland found their fourth goal of the match. That’s where Pukki beat the back line again, sent a pass into Lod in the box, and went on to score. In this match thus far, it was verified with VAR that even when checked, Finland’s goal stood and proved it was dominant.
  • In the 88th minute, Finland’s Pukki plays excellently, scoring + providing an assist. After scoring a shot at the beginning of the game, John shows fantastic team spirit as he passes the ball to Lod rather than taking it on again. With his close-range shot, Lod seals up the play.
  • The last minutes of the match of 90’ +2 minutes were marked by the fact that Northern Ireland started to defend instead of being offensive because having conceded the previous three strikes during the second half period, they had no chance of getting something out of the game anymore.

Finland won 4-0 against Northern Ireland with a goal in the last minute at injury time.

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