Kyle Lafferty took his tally to five goals in his last five international matches

29 March 2015

Kyle Lafferty scored both goals as Northern Ireland further enhanced their chances of reaching the European Championship finals for the first time.

Chris Baird headed into the net early on but the flag was up for offside.

Lafferty scored with a right-foot volley into the bottom corner and made it five goals from five Euro qualifiers by guiding home a header soon after.

Berat Sadik grabbed a late consolation by firing home after Roy Carroll spilled Roman Eremonko's initial drive.

Michael O'Neill's side have won four of their opening five fixtures and remain one point behind Group F leaders Romania, who visit Belfast on 13 June.

The Northern Ireland boss made a major selection decision by leaving out defender Aaron Hughes, who had been primed to replace David Healy as his country's most capped outfield player.

The match pitted O'Neill against his Finnish counterpart Mixu Paatelainen, who gave him his coaching break as his number two at Scottish club Cowdenbeath.

Northern Ireland's remaining Euro 2016 Group F qualifiers

Romania (home)

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Faroe Islands (away)

Friday, 4 September 2015

Hungary (home)

Monday, 7 September 2015

Greece (home)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Finland (away)

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Finland belied the fact that they lie 35 places behind Northern Ireland in the Fifa rankings by making a bright start to the game and Teemu Pukki's drive forced Roy Carroll into a fine save at his near post.

Baird's impressive header from Chris Brunt's delivery was disallowed and Jamie Ward found himself through on goal but his right-foot shot was well saved by Lukas Hradecky.

Lafferty continued his remarkable international goal-scoring run with a clinical finish and brought his overall tally in the green shirt to 14 by directing a header into the bottom right-hand corner.

The Finns' failure to score in the opening period meant that Northern Ireland have gone nine games without conceding a goal in the first half.

The hosts began the second half in enterprising fashion and Niall McGinn squandered a good opportunity to extend his side's advantage when he skewed the ball over the bar after getting on the end of Jamie Ward's mis-directed shot.

Substitute Joel Pohjanpalo fired wide from three yards, while Sadik made it a nervy finish for the home side by blasting home in added time..

The result ends any realistic hope of Finland making the finals in France next year, but Northern Ireland remain on course for their first appearance at a major finals since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Chris Baird had the ball in the net early on but the flag was up for offside

Niklas Moisander attempts to clear the danger as Kyle Lafferty prepares to pounce