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Saturday 16 December 2017

A bizarre own goal sees North fall in Norway

Norway 1 N Ireland 0

Northern Ireland's Chris Brunt (right) and goalkeeper Michael McGovern after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group C match at the Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo. Photo: PA
Northern Ireland's Chris Brunt (right) and goalkeeper Michael McGovern after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group C match at the Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo. Photo: PA

Chris Brunt's strange own goal ensured Northern Ireland's Group C campaign ended in a 1-0 defeat to Norway but Michael O'Neill's men will still be in the play-offs next month.

The Northern Irish knew they were assured of one of the eight play-off berths less than an hour before they kicked off in Oslo thanks to Scotland's draw in Slovenia earlier in the evening.

However, they could end up meeting a European heavyweight such as Portugal or Italy in those play-offs after a gaffe from Brunt, who lashed a clearance into his own net 19 minutes from time.

With Conor McLaughlin down on the ground injured, Stefan Johansen's cross from the left was pushed into the air by a backpedalling keeper Michael McGovern and Brunt's slashed attempted clearance with the outside of his boot was somehow lashed into the roof of his own net.

That meant Northern Ireland face the prospect of not being seeded.

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