Estonia 0-1 Northern Ireland: Shane Ferguson thunderbolt in drab friendly gives Ian Baraclough’s men back-to-back wins ahead of World Cup qualifier versus Switzerland
- Northern Ireland beat Estonia 1-0 in a friendly thanks to Shane Ferguson’s goal
- Ferguson shot home from 25 yards for his first international goal in nine years
- The results makes it back-to-back wins for Ian Baraclough’s men this week
Shane Ferguson lit up a dull friendly in Tallinn with a spectacular strike as Northern Ireland made it back-to-back wins in the Baltics ahead of their crunch World Cup qualifier against Switzerland.
Breaking the deadlock was probably the last thing on the 30-year-old Rotherham defender’s mind when he replaced Jamal Lewis 10 minutes after half-time and was handed the captain’s armband by skipper Niall McGinn to mark his 50th cap.
After all, it was nine years since Ferguson’s last international goal against Finland.
Northern Ireland beat Estonia 1-0 in a turgid friendly thanks to a Shane Ferguson wonder strike
Ferguson (right) let fly from 25 yards to score his first international goal for nine years
The victory follows Northern Ireland’s win over 4-1 Lithuania in their World Cup qualifier
Estonia (4-4-2): Igonen; Lilander (S Puri 46), Lukka, Kuusk, Paskotski; Vassiljev (Kait, 46), Kreida (Mets 46), Poom, Sinyavskiy (Kirss 80); Sappinen (Anier 46), Sorga (Zenjov 77)
Subs: Hein, Vallner, Pikk, Miller, Peetson, Teniste.
Booked: Vassiljev, Zenjov
N Ireland (4-2-3-1): Carson (Hazard 63); McNair, Flanagan, Brown, Lewis (Ferguson 55); McCalmont, Donnelly (Bradley 63); McGinn, Jones, Whyte; Lafferty (Charles 55).
Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Ballard, Lavery, Washington, Thompson, McCann, Cathcart.
Scorer: Ferguson 75
Booked: Charles, Bradley
Referee: Mads-Kristoffer Kristoffersen (Denmark)
But when Northern Ireland worked the ball out to the left flank in the 75th minute, Ferguson seized the opportunity to advance into space and let fly from 25 yards.
Goalkeeper Matvei Igonen managed to get a hand to the ball but could only touch it against the inside of the past on its way into the net.
‘You couldn’t write it,’ said Ferguson. ‘To make my 50th cap was a big night for me and my family, and I’m delighted to score and get the result.
‘The main thing was to keep that winning feeling in the dressing-room that we had the other night. We just want to keep that going into Wednesday’s game.’
Victory in the A Le Coq Arena followed Thursday’s Group C win over Lithuania in Vilnius that has revived Northern Ireland’s flagging hopes of World Cup qualification.
Manager Ian Baraclough clearly had one eye on Wednesday’s vital game against the Swiss in Belfast as he made nine changes to his starting line-up and four more during the game.
Estonia also made seven changes from their Group E defeat to Belgium as they prepared to face Wales in Cardiff still seeking their first point in qualification.
It made for a sterile first half and more than an hour had gone before Trevor Carson made the first save of note, denying Erik Sorga moments before he was replaced in goal by Celtic’s Conor Hazard.
With Northern Ireland also making seven changes, it meant more than an hour of dull football
Estonia made seven changes to their team ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Wales
Ferguson pushed his luck by going close with another effort from range before the end, and Markus Poom fired narrowly over for Estonia in added time.
‘Winning games makes you feel a lot better as a group,’ said Baraclough. ‘You go out there feeling you’re on a bit of a roll.
‘Our objective was to put three wins on the board in this window, and we’ve put ourselves in contention. Hopefully we can give the fans a night to remember.’
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