Northern Ireland’s first Nations League win in Kosovo eased relegation fears and pressure on Ian Baraclough… but relegation to Europe’s minnows remains a real possibility
- Northern Ireland won their first Nations League match with a win over Kosovo
- However, they play Greece in Athens on Tuesday and could still be relegated
- Ian Baraclough’s side must match or better Cyprus’ result in Kosovo to stay up
- Baraclough admitted his side are ‘far from the finished article’ despite victory
Northern Ireland’s first Nations League win eased the pressure on manager Ian Baraclough, but they still face the very real prospect of relegation to League D on Tuesday.
Baraclough’s side play Greece in Athens on Tuesday and will need to match or better Cyprus’ result in Kosovo after the Cypriots stunned group leaders Greece with a 1-0 win in Larnaca on Saturday.
Gavin Whyte equalized for Northern Ireland and Josh Magennis’ 93rd minute header gave them a 2-1 win in front of 17,000 in Belfast.
Josh Magennis scored Northern Ireland’s late winner in the Nations League clash with Kosovo
Ireland boss Ian Baraclough admitted his side ‘not the finished article’ and ‘still building’
Baraclough said: ‘Every win means something but a Nations League win, the first one we’ve managed, I’m really happy.
‘It gives us a platform to build on. We know we are not the finished article, but we are still building and trying to bring in young players. Those players create a competitive team.’
If Northern Ireland are relegated, their next campaign will see them face San Marino, Andorra and Liechtenstein.
Substitute Gavin Whyte scored Northern Ireland’s equalizer with less than ten minutes remaining
Goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell has been told he must win back his place at club level
Baraclough suggested goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell may have to leave Burnley in January to keep his place.
He has been Northern Ireland’s No.1 since 2018 and a string of crucial saves kept his side in the game, but at club level he is behind Aro Muric, who was in goal at the other end for Kosovo.
With Conor Hazard and Luke Southwood in the frame to take over, Baraclough admitted: ‘He knows he has competition. If the next (international) window is March, he has six months to join the team or in January move on.’