Kazakhstan keep up qualifying quest with Northern Ireland win

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Kazakhstan keep up qualifying quest with Northern Ireland win

Kazakhstan sit on 12 points from five games in Group H
Kazakhstan sit on 12 points from five games in Group HAFP
Northern Ireland’s worst run of form for over a decade continued, as they suffered their fifth successive defeat to Kazakhstan in Astana. Maksim Samorodov’s superb first-half strike was enough to earn the hosts a 1-0 win which puts them joint-top of Group H, nine points clear of their opponents.

With both sides desperate for points in their quest to reach next summer’s Euro finals in Germany, a tight and nervy start ensured that neither team was able to get much of a stranglehold on proceedings.

 Indeed, the scrappy nature of the game meant there were just two real chances in the opening 20 minutes, as Dan Ballard headed well off target for the visitors, while Bakhtiyar Zaynutdinov dragged a low effort wide at the other end.

The game eventually started to open up though, and the Hawks - who had lost nine of their previous dozen European qualifiers at home - took the lead when Samorodov emphatically drilled into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Northern Ireland attempted to hit back, but they failed to even land a shot on target before the break, although a stunning tackle from Samorodov did prevent what looked like a certain goalscoring chance for Conor McMenamin.

Michael O’Neill made two changes at the break, as the Green and White Army went in search of an equaliser. And it nearly came immediately after the restart, when only a superb save denied Conor Washington at point-blank range.

 Shortly after, a bobbling long-range Shea Charles strike provided a more comfortable stop for Igor Shatskiy, while Washington had a further shot blocked when a pass may have been a better option.

Generally, though, Northern Ireland weren’t able to keep hold of the ball long enough in the Kazakhstan half, and regularly lost possession through poor passes or crosses.

At the other end, only Bailey Peacock-Farrell, diving low to his right, prevented the hosts from doubling their lead through Askhat Tagybergen as Magomed Adiyev picked up a vital win that edges them closer to qualifying for a first major tournament.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Maksim Samorodov (Kazakhstan)

Check out all the match stats with Flashscore.

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