Ian Baraclough is still searching for his first win as Northern Ireland manager after a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Bulgaria in World Cup qualifying at Windsor Park on the night Steven Davis earned his record-breaking 126th cap for his country.
The Belfast encounter had been described as ‘must win’ but the hosts could so easily have lost were it not for the heroics of Bailey Peacock-Farrell in stoppage time as he kept out Dimitar Iliev’s point-blank header.
Northern Ireland came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Stuart Dallas’ header struck the crossbar while Daniel Naumov kept out Gavin Whyte’s volley in the second period.
The result leaves Baraclough’s men in third position in World Cup European Qualifying Group C with one point from their opening two games while Bulgaria sit fourth.
Full match report to follow…
- Northern Ireland haven’t won any of their last eight home internationals – their longest winless streak on home soil since a 13-game run, ending in June 2005.
- Bulgaria are winless in their last 12 away World Cup/EURO qualifying matches (D4 L8), since beating Malta 1-0 in June 2015 (EURO 2016 qualifying).
- Despite failing to win, Northern Ireland kept their first clean sheet in 12 games across all competitions, with tonight’s shut-out being their first since a 0-0 draw versus the Netherlands in November 2019.
- Northern Ireland have failed to score in each of their last five World Cup qualifying games, in a run dating back to October 2017.
- Bailey Peacock-Farrell only had to make one save for Northern Ireland in this game – indeed, this was the fewest shots (3) that Northern Ireland have faced in a World Cup/EURO qualifier since September 2017 (one v San Marino).
Northern Ireland take on Turkey in a friendly on Monday May 31 before facing Ukraine in another non-competitive fixture on June 3. Their next World Cup European Qualifier is away to Lithuania on September 2 at 7.45pm.
Bulgaria’s next World Cup European Qualifier is away to Italy on the same evening.
Mark Kleinman is city editor, breaking major business stories and analysing what they mean for the financial sector.
He has revealed some of the biggest stories in the city in the past decade, with a string of exclusives about major takeover deals.
Before joining Sky, he was City Editor of The Sunday Telegraph.
Mark was awarded the London Press Club Business Journalist of the Year in 2011.