Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt lead Northern Ireland to victory over Czech Republic
Northern Ireland have beaten Czech Republic to confirm a place in the playoffs for the 2018 World Cup.
West Bromwich Albion players Jonny Evans and Chris Brunt scored in the first half to lead Northern Ireland to a dominant win.
Josh Magennis, who scored twice against San Marino last week, could have put Northern Ireland ahead early on but shot narrowly wide of the right post from a corner.
Ladislav Krejci then had an opportunity but headed over the bar before Thedor Gebre Selassie’s cross was gathered by Michael McGovern. Jan Boril headed straight at the goalkeeper with Czech’s next chance.
In the 28th minute, Northern Ireland took the lead against the run of play. A corner could only be cleared to Oliver Norwood who headed the ball back towards goal for Evans to flick the ball into the net from six yards.
Czech attacked through Vladimir Darida and Tomas Soucek, who both shot off target.
Brunt doubled Northern Ireland’s lead four minutes from half time when he directed a free kick beautifully inside the left post.
Northern Ireland’s dominance continued into the second half. Magennis saw a shot blocked from the restart.
Marek Suchy had a great chance to pull a goal back with 20 minutes remaining but shot straight at McGovern from a rebound.
In stoppage time, Jan Kliment leapt highest but his header went wide of the right post and the final whistle was blown on Northern Ireland’s victory shortly afterwards.