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Key Events

90' + 5'
Yellow Card
88'
K. Malinov
Yellow Card
63'
T. Nedelev
I. Chochev
2 - 1
53'
T. Nedelev
Goal
1 - 1
35'
C. Washington
Goal
0 - 1

Match Stats

Possession
46% 54%
3
5
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target 4 6
Total Passes 366 429
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Live table
Pos Team P W D L F A +/- PTS Form
1 Switzerland SUI Switzerland 8 5 3 0 15 2 +13 18 W D W W D
2 Italy ITA Italy 8 4 4 0 13 2 +11 16 D D W D D
3 Northern Ireland NIR Northern Ireland 8 2 3 3 6 7 -1 9 D W L L D
4 Bulgaria BUL Bulgaria 8 2 2 4 6 14 -8 8 L W L W D
5 Lithuania LTU Lithuania 8 1 0 7 4 19 -15 3 L L W L L

Key

Final Tournament
Play-off

Commentary

For Northern Ireland and Bulgaria though, the end of the road does not mean the end of their group - with both sides still able to have an impact on just who gets to Qatar the easy way. Yasen Petrov's side must play the Rossocrociati - and Ian Baraclough's team must face the Azzurri. Until the next time though, thank you for joining us - and have a great week!
Both nations here surely knew that their prospects were numbered, but Switzerland's victory against Lithuania confirms that they and Italy will finish in the top two of UEFA Group C. Just who will qualify automatically remains to be seen - the pair will play each other next month.
Victory celebrations spill across the bench for the hosts - they've picked up their second win of their their Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. But it does not change the outcome - both Bulgaria and Northern Ireland are eliminated in their quest for next year's tournament. At full-time, it finishes Bulgaria 2-1 Northern Ireland.
90' + 5' FULL-TIME: BULGARIA 2-1 NORTHERN IRELAND
V. Bozhikov
K. Despodov
90' + 3' Bulgaria eat up the clock with another change, with Kiril Despodov replaced by Vasil Bozhikov.
90' + 2' Northern Ireland attempted only two shots during their defeat against Switzerland last time out, their fewest since a European Championship qualifier against Netherlands in October 2019. They've managed more today but it looks like it will not help them in the end.
90' There will be four added minutes in this match.
K. Malinov
Yellow Card
88' Malinov is also shown a yellow card for his part in the skirmish.
S. Dallas
Yellow Card
88' Dallas is booked for his part in that small fracas between both sides.
87' It's all going off now! Dallas gets a bit angry with Turitsov after the latter rebuffs a helping hand following a tackle in the Bulgaria box, and then players are coming in from all sides. There will need to be some stern words here.
84' Thompson blazes the free-kick over and chews on his lip pensively. Time is running out for his side to salvage something here.
N. McGinn
D. Ballard
82' Northern Ireland make another change as Niall McGinn replaces Danny Ballard.
D. Charles
C. Washington
82' Northern Ireland make their next change as Dion Charles replaces Conor Washington.
K. Krastev
A. Iliev
80' Bulgaria make their fourth change with Kaloyan Krastev on for Atanas Iliev.
77' Bulgaria have only lost four of their last 20 home World Cup qualifiers (W12 D4), though three of those have come in their last four games in Sofia, winning the most recent game against Lithuania in September.
75' Northern Ireland put their hands up for a penalty now but the referee is unmoved by their cries. They do get a corner however, which Bulgaria deftly handle.
D. Yankov
T. Nedelev
73' Bulgaria make their third change as Dominik Yankov replaces two-goal hero Todor Nedelev.
K. Malinov
B. Tsonev
73' Bulgaria make their second change as Kristiyan Malinov replaces Borislav Tsonev.
71' Further changes look to be incoming for Bulgaria now. The hosts are content to slow this game right down having seized the lead.
D. Ballard
Yellow Card
69' Ballard picks up a booking now for a shove on Despodov after the two went wrestling for a ball.
Jordan Jones
C. Bradley
67' Northern Ireland make their second change as Jordan Jones replaces Conor Bradley.
S. Dallas
J. Magennis
67' Northern Ireland make their first change now as Stuart Dallas replaces Josh Magennis.
65' Peacock-Farrell is being tested with routine precision now, as Bulgaria look to put this one beyond their reach. Despodov pops off a shot and the keeper pounces upon it.
I. Chochev
Assist
63' Chochev supplies the assist and suddenly the tables have been turned. Northern Ireland look in shock.
T. Nedelev
Goal
63' GOAL! TODOR NEDELEV WITH AN ABSOLUTE ROCKET FOR BULGARIA! 2-1! What a turnaround in the second half for the hosts! It's a double for the attacking midfielder, and he absolute lashes this one, cut back to him on the edge, beating Peacock-Farrell. World class, that finish!
61' Nedelev goes close to a second now, but sees his effort blocked. That goal has lit an even bigger fire under the Bulgarian side.
59' There have only been two goals scored in the last three meetings between Bulgaria and Northern Ireland, both 1-0 wins for the Bulgarians in June 2001 and February 2008 – the other ended 0-0 in March earlier this year.
57' Chochev sets his sights on goal and puts an effort in from outside the box. Peacock-Farrell again proves more than a suitable match to the strike.
55' Northern Ireland look particularly poleaxed by that one - but it has been brewing since the start of the second half. Will there be changes afoot as they look to take control of this game again?
T. Nedelev
Goal
53' GOAL! TODOR NEDELEV LEVELS IT FOR BULGARIA! 1-1! That is a lovely finish from the hosts - though not without a stroke of luck. A deflected cross is brought to earth and pinballs into the path of the attacking midfielder, who turns and sweeps a low first-shot effort in towards the left post. Superb stuff!
52' The visitors able keep their lines clean at the back and come away from their box untroubled by the latest move from their hosts.
50' Flanagan is pressed into quick defensive action now as Bulgaria break again and Northern Ireland will have to defend a corner.
48' The hosts thread together a blistering counter-move to kick off the half, but their visitors pick them off intelligently again and earn a free-kick of their own to break any potential head of momentum.
I. Iliev
R. Tsonev
46' The hosts have made a change at the break, with Ilian Iliev on for Radoslav Tsonev.
46' We are back underway in Sofia. Can Northern Ireland see this one out or will Bulgaria be able to turn it around?
1' Northern Ireland will have a free-kick just outside the Bulgaria box now. This is tempting for Thompson...
It surely looks like will only be personal bragging rights in Sofia today - Switzerland are 3-0 up against Lithuania, and currently cruising towards securing top two status in Group C. This could still well be an entertaining dead rubber though.
Conor Washington's strike in controversial circumstances has put the visitors ahead against their hosts in UEFA Group C - but both know their chances of reaching Qatar 2022 depend as much on results elsewhere. This game could grow a temper yet; at half-time, it is Bulgaria 0-1 Northern Ireland.
45' + 2' HALF-TIME: BULGARIA 0-1 NORTHERN IRELAND
45' There are going to be two added minutes in the first half for this one.
43' Now Bulgaria appeal for a penalty after two players clash heads in the box but referee Aleksey Kulbakov is not having any of it. There's only a few minutes to go before the break.
41' This is turning into a particularly tetchy affair. Both sets of players are getting a tad irate with each other, to put it mildly.
39' You've surely not heard the last of this one. My word, Bulgaria are furious - and it isn't surprising. But to the letter of the law, there is no issue - and given Velkovski has recovered to continue, their arguments may well lose credibility. They have it all to do now.
37' Before today. Paddy McNair has created eight chances for Northern Ireland during 2022 World Cup qualifying, double that of the next most by a teammate.
C. Washington
Goal
35' GOAL! CONOR WASHINGTON GIVES NORTHERN IRELAND THE LEAD! 1-0! This is sure to go down as one of the most infamous goals of qualification for Qatar 2022 and no wonder. There is nothing wrong with the finish from the forward, wrestled home after Magennis saw a shot blocked - but the manner of the build-up will surely stoke fires.
35' Have Northern Ireland snatched a lead? Frustration reigns in Sofia after Velkovski goes down challenging for a high ball and lands prone in the box - but the visitors play on and wrestle a finish home through Washington after a deflected save fell at his feet. VAR will have a look.
34' Peacock-Farrell to the rescue! The long ball is tapped on and Bulgaria almost split Northern Ireland at the back, but the goalkeeper leaps like the proverbial salmon to snaffle the ball.
32' Bulgaria make the most of a slight momentum shift however and win a corner, with Chochev heading it over the crossbar at close-range, to give a friendly reminder that his side remain dangerous.
30' Northern Ireland haven’t faced Bulgaria away from home since March 2001 in a World Cup qualifier, losing 4-3 despite goals from Mark Williams, Stuart Elliott and David Healy.
28' Moments after Cathcart is caught offside, Despodov is left pounding the ground, furious after a well-worked Bulgaria counter sees an awful final pass slapped behind him and straight to the Northern Irish defence.
26' Andrea Hristov concedes the latest Northern Ireland corner and the visitors pile forward again. Bulgaria are continuing to look a little bit adrift - though Peacock-Farrell is pressed into action to deal with a subsequent counter a moment later.
24' Elsewhere in Group C, it remains goalless between Switzerland and Lithuania - which would, as a result, mean the end of the road for both of these two teams in terms of their journey. Neither have the result from the Nations League as things stand to take that path too.
22' It is the visitors who look to be shading this encounter so far. On the sidelines, Yasen Petrov looks like he is sucking a lemon. His side - without a major crowd today - seem a little bit harried.
21' Bulgaria have ridden their luck again, with Karadzhov unable to quite collect Thompson's effort know in a crowded, hectic box - but the offside flag has done him the favour.
18' How close was that for McNair? A fine cross on the break from Northern Ireland almost unlocks Bulgaria, but Karadzhov somehow bats away the close-range header that the former tries to finish at the right post.
16' The set-piece earns a repeat - and this time, Chochev nudges a looping header that lands on the roof of the net. Peacock-Farrell looked to have it covered. Northern Ireland look to speed it away post-haste from the goal-kick.
14' Now it is the turn of the hosts to mount pressure, with Chochev earning a free-kick for a sloppy challenge and then Northern Ireland forced to divert a teasing ball out for a corner.
12' Bulgaria ably deal with the corner and both sides then play it long as they look to wrestle for possession and position across the middle of the park.
10' Petko Hristov.rides to the rescue for Bulgaria as a sharp move from the visitors almost cuts them open on the right. Both sides look up for this test.
8' Thompson flicks a finish on the counter for Northern Ireland with their first real attack of the game now, but comes up short thanks to the linesman's flag.
6' A goalless draw in the midst of Covid-barred empty stadiums in March was the result the last time these two sides played - but they seem eager for a goal so far. Could this be a free-scoring one?
4' Despodov promptly snaps up a free-kick off of a foul, and the effort is whistled in straight towards goal. Peacock-Farrell proves more than adept and makes an easy save.
2' An early moment of cooperation between the two sides, as Despodov gets some help from Flanagan to reattach his captain's armband. It surely won't last...
1' We are underway in this Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier between Bulgaria and Northern Ireland!
The teams have emerged in Sofia for the national anthems and we are not too far away from kick-off.
Northern Ireland’s only two wins in eight previous meetings with Bulgaria came in qualifying for Euro 1980, winning 2-0 both home and away in that campaign. It has been a while for the visitors.
Subs: Dion Charles, Carl Winchester, Paul Smyth, Jordan Jones, Liam Hughes, Niall McGinn, Stuart Dallas, Ciaron Brown, Alfie McCalmont, Conor Hazard.
NORTHERN IRELAND (5-3-2): Bailey Peacock-Farrell; Patrick McNair, Danny Ballard, Craig Cathcart, Tom Flanagan, Shane Ferguson; Conor Bradley, Steven Davis, Jordan Thompson; Josh Magennis, Conor Washington.
Subs: Birsent Karagaren, Kristiyan Malinov, Martin Lukov, Dominik Yankov, Radoslav Kirilov, Dimitar Iliev, Spas Delev, Svetoslav Velislavov Vutsov, Ilian Ilianov Iliev, Petar Vitanov, Kaloyan Krastev, Vasil Bozhikov.
BULGARIA (4-2-3-1): Ivan Karadzhov; Ivan Turitsov, Petko Hristov, Radoslav Tsonev, Andrea Hristov; Dimitar Velkovski, Borislav Tsonev; Ivaylo Chochev, Todor Nedelev, Kiril Despodov; Atanas Iliev.
Northern Ireland meanwhile are skippered by the veteran Steven Davis - but the Rangers man isn't the only top-flight figure in their team, with Burnley goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell included at the back, though he remains on loan with Sheffield Wednesday.
It is a mostly domestic squad that Bulgaria have called upon for this international break, but a handful of foreign-based players are included - with Cercle Brugge defender Dimitar Velkovski among those in the starting line-up today.
The simple math then - both Northern Ireland and Bulgaria need a win to even keep their hopes alive of reaching Qatar 2022. They would also need Switzerland to lose to Lithuania; a mere point for the Rossocrociati would take the latter out of reach, no matter what happens.
Likewise, it is nearly over for Yasen Petrov's Lions too. Level on five points with their visitors heading into today's clash, they too look set to miss out entirely on a place too. Their wait for an illustrious return will go on, unless results dramatically swing their way.
Time is almost up for Ian Baraclough and the Green and White Army's distant hopes of a spot at next year's tournament. Automatic qualification is practically beyond them - and they would need Switzerland to suffer defeat against Lithuania to keep their prospects alive.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers, as Northern Ireland aim to keep their fledgling hopes alive on the road against Bulgaria in UEFA Group C at Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia.