Northern Ireland brush aside San Marino

SERRAVALLE, San Marino - Northern Ireland moved second in 2010 World Cup qualifying Group Three with a 3-0 win over San Marino on Wednesday.

The game in the tiny republic had been in doubt because of heavy rain but the visitors soon made light of a tough pitch when Gareth McAuley lashed in a Steven Davis corner on six minutes.

Midfielder Grant McCann doubled the lead on 32 minutes with a 20-metre drive and second-half substitute Chris Brunt grabbed a third with a free kick from distance.

San Marino striker Manuel Marani was dismissed for a second yellow on 70 minutes while the only sour note for Nigel Worthington's team was a booking for forward Kyle Lafferty which rules him out of the home game with Poland on March 28.

Northern Ireland, who have played a game more, are two points behind leaders Slovakia and level on seven with Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia. San Marino are bottom with no points.