LONDON - Northern Ireland revived their hopes of reaching the finals of Euro 2012 when they beat Faroe Islands 4-0 to move third in Group C on a rainy night in Belfast on Wednesday.
Celtic's Paddy McCourt scored twice after the break to put some gloss on an encouraging display which helped Northern Ireland leapfrog Estonia and Serbia and move to nine points, just two behind second-placed Slovenia with a game in hand.
Italy are clear leaders with 16 points.
Northern Ireland led at half-time courtesy of Aaron Hughes' first international goal on his 77th appearance for his country - a close-range prod which took a deflection.
The hard-working visitors frustrated Northern Ireland until the 66th minute when Steven Davis doubled the lead after a swift counter-attack.
McCourt then grabbed centre stage.
His first international goal arrived in the 71st minute after he cut into the area, took a return pass from Jonny Evans and curled a shot into the corner.
He saved the best for last, showing some dazzling footwork to jink his way through several Faroes tackles before cheekily lobbing the keeper.comments