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Match Analysis: Faroe Islands 1-3 Northern Ireland

Sports Mole analyses Northern Ireland's 3-1 win in their Euro 2016 qualifier against the Faroe Islands in Group F.

Two goals from Gareth McAuley have left Northern Ireland on the brink of qualification for next summer's Euro 2016 in France after they beat the Faroe Islands 3-1.

Joan Edmundsson cancelled out an early goal from the Northern Ireland defender, but the midfielder was sent off after picking up a second yellow card just after the hour mark.

His dismissal allowed McAuley to add a second, before Kyle Lafferty put the win beyond doubt late on.

Here, Sports Mole analyses the result, which leaves Michael O'Neill's side in a position to secure qualification in their next match.

Match statistics

Shots: 3
On target: 3
Possession: 50%
Corners: 9
Fouls: 9

Shots: 16
On target: 9
Possession: 50%
Corners: 10
Fouls: 10

Was the result fair?

Northern Ireland did look the better of the two sides from the start, before letting the hosts back into it. The Faroe Islands were good value for the draw at half time, but struggled once the visitors hit their stride again after the break, resulting in the rash challenge that saw Joan Edmundsson sent off, leaving them a player short for the final 25 minutes. While the hosts may argue that they could have held on for the point if they had kept 11 players on the pitch, Northern Ireland certainly deserved the win on the strength of their second-half display.

Faroe Islands' performance

The hosts struggled at the start as Northern Ireland took the game to them straight from kickoff, but they kept their cool to find a way back into the match before the break. After a few early mistakes, the defenders were relatively well organised, only really slipping up after the red card, while the more attacking players looked lively on the counter-attack. Discipline cost Lars Olsen's men though, as they really struggled when down to 10 men, while two of the three goals that they conceded came from set pieces.

Northern Ireland's performance

Michael O'Neill would have wanted his side to be more ruthless in the first half, having made such a bright start to the game. Having scored inside the opening 15 minutes, the visitors just sat back and allowed their opponents back into the tie. They were quick to capitalise once facing a 10-man side though, changing to a more attacking formation and relentlessly putting the Faroe Islands under pressure at the back, resulting in a further two goals. It was not the most attractive football at times, but they got the job done.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Gareth McAuley: Any time a defender scores two goals he becomes an obvious man of the match candidate, but McAuley also impressed at the back as well this evening. The West Bromwich Albion man showed his intent early on when he got forward to head in from a free kick, before making a number of vital blocks and clearances when the home side were on top either side of half time. Despite having worked hard at the back, and already hit the target once, he was still prepared to throw himself into action from another set piece to restore Northern Ireland's lead in the second half. It was a really committed performance from the centre-back.

Biggest gaffe

Joan Edmundsson's red card was completely avoidable and really cost his side. The midfielder had caught the referee's eye after just six minutes, but went in for a hideous two-footed challenge on Oliver Norwood regardless in the second half. Norwood was only just inside the home side's half when he picked up the ball, so it really had not become a goal-scoring opportunity, Edmundsson could have let him go. In truth, he was probably lucky not to get a straight red for the first-half challenge on Stuart Dallas, but the referee showed leniency that time.

Referee performance

German referee Felix Zwayer was the man in the middle this evening. He has a reputation for letting the game flow and showing leniency, which was evident in the first half. After Edmundsson had been sent off, the home side surrounded him a couple of times when the visitors gave away free kicks, pushing for the German to level the teams again, but he was not swayed. It was a decent night's work from the officials.

What next?

Faroe Islands: The Faroe Islands have a trip to Finland on Monday, where they will be looking to move back above the side that now sit fourth in Group F.

Northern Ireland: The new Group F leaders host Hungary on Monday, knowing that victory will put them eight points clear of the third-placed side with only two fixtures remaining, sealing their spot in next summer's tournament.

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Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (2R) is congratulated after scoring during the international friendly football match between Qatar and Northern Ireland at the Alexandra Stadium in Crewe on May 31, 2015
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