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Northern Ireland win third straight qualifier

Northern Ireland
Jamie Ward and Kyle Lafferty celebrate at full-time. Credit: PA

Northern Ireland's dreams of a first European Championship appearance are one step closer to reality after goals from Jamie Ward and Kyle Lafferty against Greece gave them a third successive Group F victory.

Northern Ireland's impressive form is exemplified by Lafferty's hot streak of three goals in as many games - the latest a powerful run and finish from a predatory counter-attack in a 2-0 win.

Ward also deserves immense credit, opening the scoring with a deflected effort in the eighth minute and setting up Lafferty's second with a tigerish interception that turned defence into attack in an instant.

Greece, though, put in a ragged impression of a top seed and former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri is already fighting for his job, jeered from the field after taking a solitary point in his first three matches.

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Michael O'Neill on namesake Martin and eligibility: It doesn't matter who's in charge of the Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill does not expect the appointment of Martin O'Neill as Republic of Ireland boss to impact on player eligibility – a touchstone of O'Neill's tenure at Windsor Avenue has been his attempt to stem the flow of Northern Irish-born talent to the Republic.

It doesn't really matter who is in charge of the Republic in terms of the eligibility question.

My focus, pure and simple, is to make sure that our young players know what we are trying to do as an association and what we are trying to build with our younger players in terms of giving them the chance of having an international career.

I know most of our young age-group footballers by name and have worked on the training pitch with them and hopefully that is a help.

"I've spoken to Martin on a few occasions and he was very helpful to me before I took this job and since.

– Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill on namesake Martin.
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