Northern Ireland: Paddy McNair scores twice in 3-2 friendly win in Prague

Two goals from Paddy McNair helped Northern Ireland secure a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic – their first away win in a friendly game for 13 years.

McNair fired into the bottom corner, Jonny Evans poked home from close range and McNair slotted in after going round the keeper to make it 3-0 at half-time.

Substitute Vladimir Darida rifled in to reduce the deficit and a minute later Alex Kral shot into the bottom corner.

The win came after NI’s agonising 3-1 Euro qualifier loss to the Netherlands.

While Michael O’Neill’s side were still getting over the disappointment of that last-gasp defeat by the Dutch in Rotterdam, the Czech Republic came into the game on a high after defeating England 2-1 in their Group A encounter on Friday.

Northern Ireland’s last victory away from Belfast in a friendly international was a 2-1 triumph over Finland in 2006.

McNair stars with first-half double salvo

Three of the last four meetings between these nations had ended goal-less but any notion that that scoreline may be repeated again at the Generali Arena ended in the eighth minute when midfielder McNair grabbed his first of the game.

The Middlesbrough player sneaked ahead of Ladislav Krejci to get on the end of Liam Boyce’s cross from the left, took a touch with his right foot and shot low left-footed into the goal.

The disorganised home defence made a second goal look likely and it arrived in the 23rd minute when Evans pounced on a loose ball to shoot home from close range after Craig Cathcart and Tom Flanagan had got touches to McNair’s well-delivered corner.

It was a fourth international goal for Evans and his second against these opponents, the Leicester City central defender having also scored in a 2-0 NI success over the Czechs in a World Cup qualifier in Belfast in September 2017.

Steven Davis, winning his 115th cap to move within three of Pat Jennings’ all-time NI record, provided the through ball for McNair’s second as he showed composure to round the keeper one-on-one and fire home his third goal for his country.

Czechs much improved in second half

The home side made 10 changes to the starting line-up which defeated England – goalscorer Kral the only survivor from that match – but four substitutes were introduced at half-time in a bid to mount a comeback.

After dominating play after the break, one of those replacements at the interval, Darida, pulled one back with a rasping shot which Michael McGovern in the visiting goal got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.

Jan Kopic’s low cross was controlled by Zdenek Ondrasek in the box and he laid the ball off for Darida to side-foot the ball into the roof of the net.

Soon after Kral ghosted his way past two NI defenders and placed a well-struck right-foot shot into the corner to further reduce his side’s deficit.

The Czechs could not find an equaliser and their attention will now be focused on their next match against Kosovo in Euro qualifying Group A, in which they lie second to England.

Line-ups

Czech Rep

Substitutes

Northern Ireland

Substitutes

Match Stats

Live Text

Match ends, Czech Republic 2, Northern Ireland 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Czech Republic 2, Northern Ireland 3.

Foul by Lukas Masopust (Czech Republic).

George Saville (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Zdenek Ondrasek (Czech Republic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Zdenek Ondrasek (Czech Republic).

Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Alex Kral (Czech Republic) with an attempt from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Vladimír Darida with a cross.

Corner, Czech Republic. Conceded by Stuart Dallas.

Jan Boril (Czech Republic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Conor McLaughlin (Northern Ireland).

Foul by Ondrej Celustka (Czech Republic).

Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Zdenek Ondrasek (Czech Republic).

Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Niall McGinn replaces Gavin Whyte.

Jan Boril (Czech Republic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Patrick McNair (Northern Ireland).

Booking

Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) is shown the yellow card.

Attempt blocked. Lukas Masopust (Czech Republic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jan Kopic.

Jan Boril (Czech Republic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Patrick McNair (Northern Ireland).

Attempt blocked. Vladimír Darida (Czech Republic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lukas Masopust.

Attempt blocked. Jan Boril (Czech Republic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Radim Reznik with a cross.

Foul by Jan Boril (Czech Republic).

Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Patrik Schick (Czech Republic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left.

Corner, Czech Republic. Conceded by Conor McLaughlin.

Substitution

Substitution, Czech Republic. Lukas Masopust replaces Ladislav Krejci.

Corner, Czech Republic. Conceded by Corry Evans.

Foul by Ondrej Kudela (Czech Republic).

Gavin Whyte (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Patrik Schick (Czech Republic) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Vladimír Darida.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Josh Magennis replaces Liam Boyce.

Foul by Zdenek Ondrasek (Czech Republic).

Craig Cathcart (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Jan Boril (Czech Republic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Conor McLaughlin (Northern Ireland).

Foul by Jan Kopic (Czech Republic).

Gavin Whyte (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

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