Full Time After Extra Time This is a live match. Extra Time Half Time

Czech Republic vs Northern Ireland. International Match.

Generali Arena.

Czech Republic 2

  • V Darida (67th minute)
  • A Kral (68th minute)

Northern Ireland 3

  • P McNair (9th minute, 40th minute)
  • J Evans (23rd minute)

Czech Republic 2-3 Northern Ireland: Paddy McNair scores twice as visitors survive fightback

Report and highlights as Northern Ireland secure first away friendly win under Michael O'Neill

 0:28
Michael O'Neill says the victory gives his side momentum for their huge Euro 2020 qualifier with Holland next month

Paddy McNair scored twice as Northern Ireland withstood a second-half fightback from Czech Republic to record an impressive 3-2 friendly win in Prague.

Michael O'Neill's side were good value for their 3-0 half-time lead as McNair's clinical opener (9) was added to by Jonny Evans after Czech Republic failed to clear a set-piece (23).

McNair raced onto Steven Davis' pass to sweep in a third for the visitors (40), but after crumbling against the Netherlands, Northern Ireland were grateful for the final whistle after being pegged back in the second half.

The hosts improved dramatically after the break as quickfire goals from Vladimir Darida (67) and Alex Kral (68) threatened to spoil Northern Ireland's night, but there would be no repeat of Rotterdam.

Northern Ireland's defender Jonny Evans (c) celebrates with his teammates after scoring during the international friendly football match between Czech Republic and Northern Ireland in Prague, on October 14, 2019. (Photo by Michal CIZEK / AFP) (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Jonny Evans celebrates after scoring Northern Ireland's second on Monday

Player ratings

Czech Republic: Pavlenka (5), Reznik (5), Kudela (6), Krejci (6), Husbauer (6), Krmencik (6), Kalvach (6), Kopic (6), Zmrhal (6), Kral (7), Simic (6)

Subs: Boril (6), Celustka (6), Darida (7), Masopust (6), Ondrasek (8), Schick (6),

Northern Ireland: McGovern (6), C. McLaughlin (7), Flanagan (7), J. Evans (8), S. Davis (7), Boyce (7), Dallas (6), Thompson (6), McNair (9), Whyte (8), Cathcart (7)

Subs: Saville (6), McGinn (6), C. Evans (6), Magennis (6)

Man of the match: Paddy McNair.

O'Neill had failed to register a win in any of his previous 12 away friendlies as Northern Ireland boss, but after Ronald Koeman labelled his side's approach as "terrible to watch", this was lucky number 13 and the perfect riposte.

Despite the euphoria of ending England's 43-game unbeaten run in World Cup and Euro qualifiers on Friday, there were plenty of empty seats around the Generali Arena - and this proved a case of after the Lord Mayor's show for the Czechs, who made 10 changes.

The visitors survived an early scare when a poor clearance from Evans allowed Josef Husbauer to cross for Radim Reznik to head towards goal, but Michael McGovern - on his return to the side - kept out his effort from six yards.

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Czech Republic's defender Ondrej Kudela vies for a ball with Northern Ireland's forward Liam Boyce during the international friendly football match between Czech Republic and Northern Ireland in Prague, on October 14, 2019. (Photo by Michal CIZEK / AFP) (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Czech Republic defender Ondrej Kudela vies for a ball with Liam Boyce

But it was O'Neill's men, experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation - who broke the deadlock as McNair struck in the ninth minute, latching on to Liam Boyce's low cross and beating his man to fire under goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka.

Team news

O'Neill switched to a 3-5-2 formation as he made six changes from the side who were beaten by the Netherlands.

Flanagan joined Evans and Cathcart at the back, with McLaughlin and Dallas the wing-backs.

Boyce and Whyte started up front while Thompson started in midfield alongside Davis and McNair.


The Czech Republic continued to play a dangerous game with their passing in front of their own goal, almost presenting chances to Boyce and Stuart Dallas.
McNair tucks in his second as Northern Ireland took control
Image: McNair tucks in his second as Northern Ireland took control

And it was 2-0 in the 23rd minute when a corner caused chaos in the Czech Republic box. Tom Flanagan's effort was blocked but the ball fell for Evans to fire into the roof of the net.

Seconds later, Gavin Whyte was denied from close range and the hosts then wasted their best chance of the first half as Kral beat McLaughlin on the left and pulled the ball back for Michael Krmencik, but he could not find the target.

And things got worse for the Czechs in the 40th minute as Davis slid the ball through from inside his own half and McNair powered towards goal, coolly rounding the 'keeper before slotting home.

Vladimir Darida and Alex Kral, left, were both on target for Czech Republic
Image: Vladimir Darida and Alex Kral, left, were both on target for Czech Republic

Zdenek Ondrasek, the scourge of England, came on at the break and he revitalised the Czech attack, but Craig Cathcart produced a fine block to deny him an instant impact, moments after Ladislav Krejci saw his shot kept out by McGovern.

Ondrasek was set up by Jan Kopic for another decent chance on the hour-mark, but the substitute fired wide as the hosts continued to show greater urgency, and Northern Ireland were eventually undone twice in the space of two minutes.

Jaroslav Silhavy's side reduced the deficit when Darida's rising shot through a crowded box was too hot for McGovern. And before Northern Ireland could draw breath, Kral strode forward and hit a second into the bottom left corner of the net.

But after dramatically conceding two goals in stoppage time in the Netherlands, Northern Ireland held their nerve in the four added minutes to succeed where England failed.

Analysis: 'We showed grit and lots of heart'

Former Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley told Sky Sports News:

'It was all about the result tonight, really. They showed grit, determination and lots of heart.

'It's the first away friendly that we've won in 13 games so it's a big result, especially after the other night.

'The four substitutes made a massive difference to the Czech team and changed the game. They penned us back in and we defended for most of the second half. It was a dogged performance and one Michael will be very proud with.'

Northern Ireland celebrate after a blistering first-half display in Prague
Image: Northern Ireland celebrate after a blistering first-half display in Prague

Man of the match - Paddy McNair

McNair was the driving force behind a scintillating first half display from Northern Ireland, full of power and pace on the counter-attack. His opening goal was taken excellently after sloppy defending from the Czechs, before his second showed the energy and drive he can provide in the midfield as he charged through the heart of the host's spine.

'Win means a lot'

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill: "The first half was excellent in terms of the quality of our play, our pressing, the goals we scored.

"We knew in the second half we would come under pressure. Possibly the two goals coming so quickly, it goes from 3-0 to 3-2, made it more difficult for us, but the players defended greatly. It meant a lot to us to win that game and that showed in the attitude of the players.

"No team dominates for 90 minutes. They made the decision to take chances and put more men forward and made it difficult for us to control things and play out from the back.

"That was down to them as much as ourselves, and then it becomes a little bit of tiredness. It's the second game in a short space of time. Psychologically you don't want to lose a strong lead and you maybe play the ball a bit quicker.

"We'll look at the second half, there's things we could have done better but the most important thing was to come here and get a result and we did that."

Opta stats

  • Northern Ireland have won a friendly match away from home for the first time since August 2006 (vs Finland).
  • Northern Ireland scored three first-half goals in an away international for the first time since March 2000 when they beat Malta 3-0.
  • Paddy McNair has netted three goals in his last four appearances for Northern Ireland after failing to score in his first 28 games for the national side.

What's next?

Northern Ireland now host Netherlands on November 16 in Euro Qualifying Group C, before a trip to Germany on November 19, with both games kicking off at 7.45pm and live on Sky Sports.

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