Ruthless NI hit 11 past North Macedonia


Rachel Furness scored a hat-trick to move level with David Healy as Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer

Rachel Furness equalled David Healy’s record of 36 goals for Northern Ireland with a hat-trick in an 11-0 thumping of North Macedonia in World Cup qualifying.

Simone Magill netted four as NI moved level on points with Austria in second place in Group D.

Rebecca McKenna, Lauren Wade and Kirsty McGuinness scored in the first-half.

After Magill made it 10 late on, Rebecca Holloway completed the rout in injury-time.

An excellent attacking display meant Kenny Shiels’ side surpassed their 8-0 record victory over Taiwan in 2017.

Shiels demanded a statement performance in the build-up to the game and his players delivered in style to keep the pressure on England and Austria, who had both put eight past North Macedonia, in the race for the World Cup.

Northern Ireland were expected to dominate against a side 83 places lower in the world rankings, but it was a sublime and clinical showing in the first-half in which the visitors netted seven times.

The top two sides in Group D face-off on Saturday and, with at least one guaranteed to drop points, NI move level with second-placed Austria and just two points behind leaders England at the halfway point of the campaign.

Relentless Northern Ireland storm ahead

After seeing plenty of the ball in the early stages, Northern Ireland took the lead inside four minutes when Furness kept her cool to convert from close range after Demi Vance delivered a brilliant, whipped ball to the back post.

McKenna saw an effort brilliantly cleared off the line by Viktorija Nedeva moments later, however the right back smashed in her maiden international goal on 10 minutes with a composed finish after being afforded too much time and space in the area.

Magill made it three a minute later when the in-form Everton forward slotted home after racing onto Furness’ flick-on, and the latter was involved again as she was hauled down in the box on 15 minutes.

The Liverpool midfielder dusted herself down to dispatch the spot kick, and the 34-year-old had another opportunity from 12 yards when McGuinness won a soft penalty after Marissa Callaghan’s long-range effort rattled the crossbar, but this time goalkeeper Magdalena Lekovska guessed the right way and hacked the ball to safety.

Rebecca McKenna netted a popular maiden international goal
Rebecca McKenna netted a popular maiden international goal

However, the NI pressure kept on building and Wade curled home a delightful fifth when the ball broke to her on the edge of the box, and McGuinness tucked away a sixth from the left when she raced onto Holloway’s through ball.

After setting-up Wade and McGuinness, Birmingham City defender Holloway clocked up a hat-trick of assists for the forward line when she cut the ball back for Magill to net her second four minutes before half-time.

As poor as the hosts were, it was a brilliant first-half showing from Northern Ireland and, by far, their most clinical 45 minutes under Shiels.

Visitors ease to big win

Shiels made two changes at the break, handing Rachel McLaren a debut in place of booked Crusaders team-mate Nelson while captain Callaghan was replaced by Chloe McCarron.

Naturally, while Northern Ireland continued their possession play, the second-half lacked the same, relentless energy of the first, although Wade hit the crossbar from 20 yards in her bid to get the goals flowing again.

Furness saw a powerful 30-yard drive tipped onto the crossbar by Lekovska moments later, and McKenna, who could have ended the game with a hat-trick, scuffed an effort wide from the edge of the area.

However Furness did complete her hat-trick on 68 minutes when she fired past Lekovska from close range, and she was soon joined by the excellent Magill on three goals when the 27-year-old capitalised on a poor goal kick to complete her treble.

Simone Magill continued her fine form in front of goal for club and country
Simone Magill continued her fine form in front of goal for club and country

Magill, substitute Kelsie Burrows and Wade missed good opportunities to reach double figures, while Nadene Caldwell forced a superb save from Lekovska with eight minutes to play after skipping into the area.

However the pressure finally told and Magill lobbed Lekovska for her fourth before Holloway added a goal to her hat-trick of assists when she converted from close range in injury-time and completed NI’s record victory in fine fashion.

The teams play the reverse fixture in Belfast on Monday and Shiels will be hoping his players can repeat the performance in front of a sold-out Seaview and end a historic year on a high before the build-up to the Euro 2022 finals next summer.

Line-ups

North Macedonia Women

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Lekovska
  • 2GjorgjevskaBooked at 39minsSubstituted forZivikjat 54′minutesBooked at 56mins
  • 23Milchevska
  • 15NedevaSubstituted forPaneskaat 54′minutes
  • 3BoseskaBooked at 87mins
  • 8MarkovskaSubstituted forMustafaat 54′minutes
  • 6Shemsovikj
  • 11Saliihi
  • 4MileskaSubstituted forPetrovskaat 75′minutes
  • 7Maksuti
  • 19PetrushevskaSubstituted forChonevaat 79′minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Kolarovska
  • 9Mustafa
  • 10Husein
  • 12Kolevska
  • 13Zivikj
  • 14Velkova
  • 16Petrovska
  • 17Jankovska
  • 18Joshevska
  • 20Choneva
  • 21Paneska
  • 22Pavlovska

N Ireland Wom

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Burns
  • 2McKennaSubstituted forHamiltonat 77′minutes
  • 5NelsonBooked at 45minsSubstituted forMcLarenat 45′minutes
  • 4McFaddenSubstituted forBurrowsat 56′minutes
  • 3Vance
  • 14Wade
  • 10FurnessSubstituted forCaldwellat 73′minutes
  • 8CallaghanSubstituted forMcCarronat 45′minutes
  • 6HollowayBooked at 67mins
  • 9Magill
  • 11McGuinness

Substitutes

  • 7McCarron
  • 12Flaherty
  • 13Burrows
  • 15Hamilton
  • 16Caldwell
  • 17McLaren
  • 18McDaniel
  • 20Andrews
  • 21Beattie
  • 22Watling
  • 23Harvey-Clifford

Referee:
Franziska Wildfeuer

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