EURO 2016: Ex-Comrades player McAuley’s double puts Northern Ireland on brink of qualification

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On a night when a Ballyclare Comrades flag flew proudly in Torshavn, it was former Dixon Park loanee Gareth McAuley who helped Northern Ireland to a 3-1 win over 10-man Faroe Islands.

The West Brom defender, who played for Ballyclare in 2000, scored twice to help take Michael O’Neill’s side to the brink of qualification for the Euro 2016 Championships.

Friday night’s result means Northern Ireland top Group F and a win in Monday’s home clash against Hungary would see them book their spot for the tournament in France next summer.

McAuley headed Michael O’Neill’s men in front on 12 minutes but the hosts cancelled it out when Joan Simun Edmundsson levelled before the break.

Edmundsson was dismissed for a second bookable offence on 64 minutes and the visitors seized the initiative.

McAuley nodded in his second of the night when he got on the end of a Chris Brunt free-kick before Kyle Lafferty wrapped up a precious three points, landing his sixth goal of the campaign with 15 minutes left on the clock.

Central defender Jonny Evans, who has joined West Brom, played his first competitive 90 minutes of the season while Ballyclare’s Paddy McNair replaced Lafferty on 78 minutes. Craig Cathcart and Corry Evans were unused substitutes.