Heartbreak for Northern Ireland as extra-time strike ends Euros dream


orthern Ireland suffered extra-time heartbreak as they missed out on qualification for next summer’s European Championships after a 2-1 playoff defeat to Slovakia.  

Ian Baraclough’s side looked to have kept their dream alive when an 87th minute own goal from Milan Skriniar saw them equalise after Juraj Kucka had opened the scoring for the visitors at Windsor Park, where just over 1,000 fans were present.  

However, Michal Duris’ 110th minute strike saw Slovakia through without the need for penalties.  

Slovakia led after 17 minutes as George Saville’s wayward header in midfield proved a perfect through ball for midfielder Kucka, who provided a cool finish.

It looked as though that would be the winner until the Irish claimed a dramatic late equaliser when defender Skriniar, who was the visitors’ best player, turned the ball into his own net three minutes from the end of normal time.

But Duris beat home goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell at his near post with a low drive to seal back-to-back European Championship qualifications for Slovakia and a place in Group E at the tournament next year along with Spain, Sweden and Poland.

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