Second-half goals from Ross Larkin and David Parkhouse gave Andy Crosby victory in his first match in charge of Northern Ireland Under-21s as they won 2-0 in Malta.
While it was a first win for Crosby, who stepped up from his role as assistant after Ian Baraclough was elevated to manager of the senior side in April, this was also a first victory for Northern Ireland in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2021 which has been heavily delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Northern Ireland enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages but it was Malta who first seriously threatened when Myles Beerman brought a good save from Conor Hazard just before the half hour.
Crosby’s side then had the chance to go ahead moments before the break when Beerman fouled Larkin in the box, but Parkhouse saw his spot-kick saved.
But the breakthrough came in the 58th minute when Larkin was on hand to fire home on the rebound.
And Parkhouse then doubled the advantage 10 minutes later as Northern Ireland eased to victory.
Crosby’s side will now head home to face Group Eight leaders Denmark in Ballymena on Tuesday.
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