Northern Ireland managed to get a point against Hungary on Monday despite being down to 10 men after a late equalizer by Kyle Lafferty. The point keeps Northern Ireland at the top of Group F.
The Northern Irish are on top of Group F on 17 points and had the opportunity to secure a spot at Euro 2016 in France next summer with a win over third-placed Hungary. But it looked like the importance of the occasion had gotten to the players as it was a close game with few clear cut chances at either end.
After a scoreless first half, the visiting Hungarians took the lead in the 74th minute after a goal by Richard Guzmics. The goal came after a huge error by goalkeeper Michael McGovern. McGovern jumped up to catch a freekick by Hungarian captain Balazs Dzsudzsak from the right side, but failed to grip the ball and it went through his hands and fell to Guzmics who slotted it home from point blank range.
Things got even worse for Northern Ireland when Chris Baird got sent off in the 81st minute after making two bookable offenses with the span of a few seconds. His first challenge ended with the referee waving the play to continue as Hungary had the advantage of the ball, but his second challenge brought a stop of play and a sending off.
Lafferty managed to salvage a point for Northern Ireland deep into added time as he knocked in a rebound from close range. Lafferty has now scored seven goals in eight games during the qualifiers.
Northern Ireland have two games remaining and a win over either Greece or Finland in October would secure them a spot in the tournament. The Northern Irish have never qualified for a European Championship tournament and the last big international tournament they took part in was the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.