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Northern Ireland v Bulgaria Live Commentary, 01/04/21

0 - 0
Windsor Park


Thank you for joining our coverage, we hope you enjoyed the game. Until next time, goodbye.
Northern Ireland's next qualifier is away to Lithuania, while Bulgaria visit Italy.
There goes the final whistle! Northern Ireland dominated the match, enjoying over 70% of the ball and taking 14 shots to Bulgaria's three, but the hosts just couldn't find a way through and lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Bulgaria were second best for most of the contest, but spurned two glorious chances to win it right at the end as Peacock-Farrell denied Dimitar Iliev and Atanas Iliev nodded over the bar. It finishes 0-0 in Belfast.
90' + 3' OVER! Another chance for Bulgaria at the death! Zanev finds Atanas Iliev in the box with a cross, but the substitute can't keep his header down and it loops over the bar! That's surely the last kick of the game.
K. Lafferty
Yellow Card
Northern Ireland
90' + 2' Both sets of players converge rapidly as tempers flare, but nothing major comes of it and Lafferty is booked in the aftermath.
90' + 1' SAVE! Bulgaria win a corner from the throw and Despodov swings it in for Dimitar Iliev, who gets a free header and powers it towards the near post, but Peacock-Farrell gets across to make a terrific save! What a chance for Bulgaria!
89' Cathcart takes a quick throw to Peacock-Farrell but is thoroughly unimpressed with the referee's decision to penalise him for a foul throw. Bulgaria finally have a breather and an opportunity to get up the field.
A. Iliev
Yellow Card
86' Bulgaria substitute Atanas Iliev goes into the book now for a foul on Cathcart, before diverting the resulting free-kick behind for a corner.
85' BLOCK! McGinn receives the ball in a pocket of space inside the box and shifts it onto his left before bending towards the far corner, but Andrea Hristov gets in the way to deflect behind!
84' WIDE! Lafferty, having just come on, races into the box and tries to glance a left-wing cross into the far corner from six yards out, but he can't direct it on target and sends it wide!
K. Lafferty
J. Magennis
Northern Ireland
82' The hard-working Magennis heads off the field now and is replaced by Lafferty up front for the final few minutes.
80' Lewis is the next to try his luck from range, but he, too, sees his effort blocked en route to goal. The hosts are starting to get a little desperate.
77' Substitute Kennedy tries his luck from outside the box, but his effort is charged down and blocked away.
M. Kennedy
G. Saville
Northern Ireland
74' Saville is also replaced, with winger Kennedy coming on as an extra attacking option.
M. Smith
D. Ballard
Northern Ireland
74' Baraclough makes a double-change as he looks for a winning goal. The first change sees young defender Ballard replaced by the experienced Smith.
74' WIDE! McGinn takes a right-wing cross down on his chest just outside the box and swivels before lashing a dipping effort towards the left corner, but it flashes agonisingly wide of the post!
A. Iliev
A. Galabinov
73' Striker Galabinov is the third alteration, and Atanas Iliev comes on in his stead.
P. Zanev
M. Tsvetanov
73' Tsvetanov - the other wing-back - also makes way, with Zanev taking his place.
B. Karagaren
G. Yomov
72' Petrov makes a triple-change now as he looks for improvement from his side in the closing stages of the game. Yomov is the first to come off, with Karagaren replacing him.
G. Saville
Yellow Card
Northern Ireland
70' Saville slides in on Hristov and gets there late, missing the ball and taking the man out, earning himself a yellow card.
68' Northern Ireland continue to dominate the ball and are now working it around patiently once more as they search for an opening. They've been effective in the middle but have just lacked a cutting edge in the final third.
66' Lewis wriggles away down the left and lofts a dangerous ball into the middle, but the attack is brought to an abrupt halt as Magennis is penalised for a foul on Bulgaria goalkeeper Naumov.
N. McGinn
G. Whyte
Northern Ireland
64' Baraclough makes a change of his own now, replacing Whyte with McGinn as he looks to freshen things up in the forward areas.
63' OVER! McNair finds himself in another dangerous crossing position on the right and he fizzes in a wicked, low ball that Antov slides in to block and diverts it just over his own bar!
61' Despite Petrov's positive half-time change, Bulgaria are seeing even less of the ball since the restart and are really struggling to impose themselves on proceedings.
59' There's a brief stoppage as Saville collides with Naumov while chasing a long ball over the top. The goalkeeper stays down for a few moments but eventually gets to his feet and is able to continue.
57' CHANCE! Bulgaria have a great opportunity to counter from the set-piece, but Peacock-Farrell comes out nearly as far as the halfway line to sweep up the loose ball and snuff out the danger!
56' Saville jinks forward down the left and wins a free-kick in a very promising position just outside the left corner of the box. Davis stands over it, ready to deliver.
54' SAVE! Northern Ireland win two more corners for a total of four in the space of three minutes, but can't quite force it home as Evans' header from the fourth ends up in the goalkeeper's gloves! The hosts are keeping the pressure on.
52' A corner is worked short and then back to McNair, the taker, who fires a low cross into the near post that Antov intercepts, diverting just past the post and behind for another corner.
50' The second half has picked up where the first left off, with the hosts still very much in control of proceedings.
48' SAVE! A Northern Ireland free-kick is worked short and then crossed to the back post where Cathcart heads back across goal for Whyte, who smacks a volley into the ground and towards the far corner, but Naumov scrambles across to keep it out!
46' We're back underway for the second half!
D. Iliev
A. Vutov
46' Petrov makes a half-time change, replacing central midfielder Vutov with an extra forward in Dimitar Iliev.
Bulgaria, who lost captain Kostadinov to injury shortly before half-time, will surely have to be more positive in the second half. They've absorbed a great deal of pressure and are very fortunate not to be behind. Petrov will certainly be demanding more from his players in the second half.
There goes the half-time whistle! Northern Ireland dominated the half, enjoying over 63% of the ball and keeping Bulgaria pinned back, but were unable to convert their strong spell into anything tangible. Magennis' movement and willingness got him into good positions on several occasions, but the forward struggled to capitalise, while Dallas also hit the bar with a header. It's 0-0 at the break.
V. Antov
Yellow Card
45' + 2' The hosts want Antov sent off as he catches Whyte in the face with a stray arm, but there doesn't appear to be any malicious intent and a yellow seems an appropriate punishment.
P. Vitanov
G. Kostadinov
44' That change is now made, with Kostadinov replaced by Vitanov in the centre of midfield.
43' Kostadinov has gone down off the ball now and he will certainly have to be replaced. The look on the captain's face confirms that his night is over.
40' It appears as though Bulgaria boss Petrov is readying a substitution on the sidelines. Skipper Kostadinov looks like he's struggling and he may not last until the break.
38' The hosts are patiently working the ball around, keeping Bulgaria camped in their own third as they look to maintain a compact, organised shape.
36' That effort from Antov in the 34th minute was Bulgaria's first shot in the game so far. The hosts have controlled the match well to this point.
34' CHANCE! It's a huge chance for Bulgaria as Peacock-Farrell comes off his line to deal with the free-kick into the box and flaps at it, getting nothing and ending up stranded from the goal-line with the ball loose in the middle! The hosts force it wide, however, and the resulting cross is nodded over the bar by Antov!
P. McNair
Yellow Card
Northern Ireland
33' McNair if the first Northern Irish player to go into the referee's book now following a poor challenge on Chochev.
31' Davis swings a cross in and Magennis, once again, gets on the end of it at the near post, but he can only nod wide and the flag then goes up for offside anyway.
29' The hosts are dominating the game and have done a good job of keeping Bulgaria pinned back. They haven't looked clinical in front of goal, however.
27' BLOCK! McNair finds Magennis with a corner this time, but he can only nod against a defender and it's deflected away! Magennis is getting plenty of opportunities.
25' OVER! McNair lofts the free-kick into the middle and Magennis rises highest to meet it, but he can't keep the effort down and nods just over the bar!
P. Hristov
Yellow Card
24' Petko Hristov is the first player to go into the referee's book tonight as he's penalised for a foul on McNair.
21' CROSSBAR! Bulgaria push high and Magennis is released down the left with another long ball. The visitors retreat as the Northern Ireland forward twists and turns at the byline before crossing to the back post, where Dallas meets it with his head but can only nod against the frame of the goal!
19' Magennis latches onto a long ball over the top down the left side of the box and Naumov rushes off his line in desperation, but the flag goes up for offside! That was a very tight call.
17' NO GOAL! Dallas wins the ball on the right and drives into the box before rolling across the face of goal where Whyte taps it in at the back post, but the whistle goes and Dallas is penalised for a foul in the build-up!
15' The game gets back underway now and the two players involved are, thankfully, okay and able to continue.
13' There's a pause in proceedings as Vutov and McNair clash heads and go down. The pair are being given medical attention.
11' SAVE! Magennis manages to flick a right-wing cross at goal with his head from six yards out despite being tightly marked, but he can't generate enough power or placement to trouble the goalkeeper, who catches at close-range!
9' Ireland have settled on the ball now and are working it around in search of an opening. Bulgaria found their rhythm first but are now having to absorb some pressure.
7' WIDE! A loose ball comes out to Davis on the edge of the Bulgaria box and the midfielder strikes at goal first-time, but he can't direct it on target and skews it wide of the post!
5' NO PENALTY! Bulgaria want a spot-kick as Evans appears to block the ball with his elbow just inside the box, but the referee waves play on! The defender was very close to the ball and perhaps that has gone in his favour.
3' McNair is felled on the right wing and dusts himself off to swing the resulting free-kick into the box. The delivery is dangerous but Cathcart gives away a foul as he battles for the loose ball and the chance is wasted.
1' We're underway at Windsor Park!
Bulgaria haven’t won any of their last 11 away qualifying matches for major tournaments (D3 L8) since a 1-0 win over Malta in June 2015.
Northern Ireland are winless in their last 12 games in all competitions (D4 L8), their longest such run since a streak of 13 between September 2011 and March 2013.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria boss Yasen Petrov makes six changes following his side's 2-0 defeat against Italy - who top Group C on goal-difference. Antov, Chochev, Kostadinov, Tsvetanov and Galabinov are the five who keep their places.
Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough makes sweeping changes after rotating heavily for the 2-1 friendly defeat against the USA last time out. Only Ballard and Saville are retained of the players who started that game as the first-choice crop are reinstated.
Bulgaria substitutes: Petar Vitanov, Vasil Bozhikov, Plamen Iliev, Kristiyan Malinov, Ivan Karadzhov, Birsent Karagaren, Daniel Dimov, Petar Zanev, Spas Delev, Ilian Ilianov Iliev, Dimitar Iliev, Atanas Iliev.
Bulgaria XI (3-5-2): Daniel Naumov; Andrea Hristov, Valentin Ivaylov Antov, Ivaylo Chochev; Petko Hristov, Kiril Despodov, Georgi Kostadinov, Antonio Vutov, Momchil Tsvetanov; Georgi Yomov, Andrej Galabinov.
Northern Ireland substitutes: Matthew Kennedy, Conor Hazard, Shane Ferguson, Liam Hughes, Dion Charles, Niall McGinn, Kyle Lafferty, Conor McLaughlin, Michael Smith, Alistair McCann, Corry Evans, Jordan Thompson.
Northern Ireland XI (3-5-2): Bailey Peacock-Farrell; Danny Ballard, Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart; Stuart Dallas, Paddy McNair, Steven Davis, George Saville, Jamal Lewis; Josh Magennis, Gavin Whyte.
Both sides come into this one on zero points, with Italy having beaten both by a 2-0 scoreline, while Bulgaria also suffered a 3-1 defeat against Switzerland. This fixture represents a great opportunity for both camps to kick-start their World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Hello and welcome to our LIVE coverage of the World Cup Qualifying clash between Northern Ireland and Bulgaria at Windsor Park in Belfast.