Impressive NI wins draw with Italy – Ghana latest football news, live scores, results

George Saville had an effort superbly saved by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the second half

Northern Ireland posted their best performance of the qualifying campaign to win a 0-0 draw that deprived Italy of automatic World Cup qualification.

Substitute Conor Washington nearly won for the hosts at the last minute, but his effort was called off.

Switzerland’s victory over Bulgaria means they lead Group C and European champions Italy face a play-off for a place in Qatar.

The draw secured a third place in the men’s standings for Ian Baraclough.

Switzerland, who played in the last qualifying matches on Monday night in second place, won the group by beating Bulgaria 4-0.

    Post-match reaction and all the action as it happened from Northern Ireland 0-0 Italy

“We could have spoken of a historic victory” – Baraclough

Northern Ireland’s exceptional second-half performance in front of a boisterous Windsor Park crowd almost secured a victory that would have been one of the greatest giant slaughter acts in their history.

George Saville and Stuart Dallas both came close with good opportunities before Washington rushed over a long ball in the 90th minute and beat Donnarumma.

The Charlton Athletic forward was sharp on goal but failed to catch his left-footed shot cleanly and it allowed Italian captain Leonardo Bonucci to come back and clear his line.

He had all the home support on his feet and they were on their feet again when the full-time whistle sounded to cheer the players off the field.

Having said beforehand that he would only think about his international future after the campaign, home captain Steven Davis savored the atmosphere in Windsor before leaving the field.

Roberto Mancini’s Italians, who entered the game ahead of the Swiss on goal difference, must now prepare for a play-off in March, having missed the last World Cup by losing in the play-off to Sweden.

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After resisting the onslaught of Italian possession in the first half, Northern Ireland showed bravery in the second half that allowed them to carry a threat alongside Mancini.

They could – and probably should – have taken the lead in the 50th minute when a big shot found Lewis in space to the left and his low cross was greeted by Saville, whose well-hit shot was superbly saved by Donnarumma. .

Washington was snappy after replacing Gavin Whyte and it was a great break to the left of him that fed Lewis again. His cut-back was inviting for Stuart Dallas but, with Windsor on his feet, the Leeds man trailed his low shot with his right foot just past the far post.

Insigne and Federico Chiesa both came close for Italy before Washington cleared that late effort from the line. The shock victory was not to be, but it meant Northern Ireland answered their manager’s call and ended what has been a difficult and transitional campaign on the right foot.

‘Important’ clean sheet – FlanaganEvans sublime as well-drilled NI stays firm in first half

The pattern of the game seemed to unfold in the opening minutes as Italy enjoyed long periods of possession, with plenty of clean one and two touch passes while searching for the incisive final ball.

A diagonal left-to-right ball seemed like a regular ploy, with Jamal Lewis expected to be alive at left-back for the hosts as the visitors looked to get behind him. That’s exactly what Giovanni di Lorenzo did in the eighth minute but his half-volley shot was superbly saved by Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

As dominant as the visitors were in possession, Northern Ireland’s five full-backs were well drilled and keeping their form well, superbly led by the always-composed Jonny Evans.

Jonny Evans has been superb for Northern Ireland

The Leicester City center-half had to make a number of revealing interceptions in a back-five that seemed to just sit deep and thwart the European champions.

A corner routine just before the half hour found Lorenzo Insigne on the edge of the box but his curler was comfortable for Peacock-Farrell, but the Sheffield goalkeeper on Wednesday had to make a more difficult save with his feet for a few moments later when Federico Chiesa pulled in a little effort.

Northern Ireland offered little attacking force in the first 45 minutes, with the first two Gavin Whyte and Josh Magennis having to descend deep and help the defensive effort, but, with manager Baraclough continually barking instructions from the sideline, they deserved to be level at the break.

    Line-ups Match Statistics Live Text

LINE UPS Northern Ireland

Formation 5-3-2

1Peacock-Farrell14Dallas4Flanagan5Evans20Cathcart3Lewis16McCann8Davis6Saville18Whyte21Magennis

    1Paon-FarrellBooked at 83 minutes14Dallas4Flanagan5Evans20Cathcart3Lewis16McCann8Davis6SavilleReplaced byEvansat 72’minutes18WhyteSubstituted byWashington72’minutes21MagennisBooked at 57 minutes

Substitutes

    2Bradley7McGinn9Washington10Taylor11Ferguson12Hazard13Evans15Jones19Galbraith22Brown23Southwood

Italy

Formation 4-3-3

21G Donnarumma2Di Lorenzo19Bonucci15Acerbi13Emerson6Tonali8Jorginho18Barella11Berardi10Insigne14Chiesa

    21G DonnarummaBooked at 90 minutes2Di Lorenzo19Bonucci15Acerbi13EmersonReplaced byScamacca at 80’minutes6TonaliBooked at 9 minutesReplaced by Cristanteat 45’minutes8JorginhoSupplemented byLocatelliat 68’minutes18BarellaSupplemented byBelottiat 64’minutes11Berardi10 InsigniaSupplemented by Bernardeschiat 68’minutes14Chiesa

Substitutes

    1Meret3Zappacosta4Ferrari5Locatelli7Scamacca9Belotti12Pessina16Cristante17Cragno20Bernardeschi22Raspadori23Mancini

Referee: István KovácsGame statsHome teamNorth IrelandAway teamItalyPossessionHome29% Away71% ShotsHome4Out Away12 Shots on targetAt home2O Away6CornersAt home3Out12FoulsHome11Away11Live textPost update

The match ends, Northern Ireland 0, Italy 0.

90 ‘+ 4’ Reservation

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy) is shown a yellow card.

90 ‘+ 3’ Full Time

Second Half ends, Northern Ireland 0, Italy 0.

90 ‘+ 2’ Update post

Foul by Federico Chiesa (Italy).

90 ‘+ 2’ Update post

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

90 ‘+ 1’Post update

Foul by Federico Bernardeschi (Italy).

90 ‘+ 1’Post update

free kick won Stuart Dallas (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90’Post update

Attempt blocked. Conor Washington (Northern Ireland) left footed shot from the center of the box misses to the left.

88’Post update

Coin, Italy. Licensed by Steven Davis.

87’Post update

free kick wonBryan Cristante (Italy) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

87’Post update

Foul by Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland).

86’Post update

Failed attempt. Gianluca Scamacca (Italy) header from the center of the box misses to the right. Passed by Federico Bernardeschi from a cross to a corner.

86’Post update

Coin, Italy. Licensed by Tom Flanagan.

85’Post update

free kick wonBryan Cristante (Italy) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

85’Post update

Foul by Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland).

84’Post update

Failed attempt. Domenico Berardi (Italy) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Giovanni Di Lorenzo.

83’Reservation

Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Northern Ireland) is shown a yellow card.

82’Post update

Failed attempt. Stuart Dallas (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jamal Lewis.

80 ‘Substitution

Substitution, Italy. Gianluca Scamacca replaces Emerson.

80’Post update

Coin, Italy. Licensed by Steven Davis.

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Source: bbc.com

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