Northern Ireland hammer Azerbaijan

Northern Ireland eased to a 4-0 victory over Azerbaijan in their Group C World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park on Friday evening.

  • Northern Ireland 4 Azerbaijan 0
  • Brunt returns to first XI
  • Lafferty puts hosts ahead
  • McAuley heads in second
  • McLaughlin makes it 3-0
  • Davis nicks a fourth

Match Summary

First-half goals from Kyle Lafferty and Gareth McAuley put the hosts firmly in control at the break, before Connor McLaughlin headed his first goal for his country in the second half.

The perfect evening was capped off when Steven Davis deflected Chris Brunt's shot in for their fourth goal.

Full Report

Midfield stalwart Brunt returned to the squad for the first time in 13 months after seeing a serious knee injury in February deny him the chance to play at Euro 2016.

And the West Brom skipper performed admirably for his country on his return on the left flank.

The visitors, who were flying high with two wins from three in the group, started in confident fashion and had the bulk of the early possession, but it was Northern Ireland who fashioned the clear-cut chances.

Shane Ferguson and Brunt both came close to scoring midway through the half, before Josh Magennis wasted a glorious opportunity to open the scoring one-on-one with goalkeeper Kamran Aghayev.

However, he made up for his miss a couple of minutes later with a training-ground move that resulted in strike partner Lafferty volleying home.

Five minutes before the break McAuley doubled that advantage with a well-timed header from a text-book Brunt delivery.

With a two-goal lead at the break, the hosts came out in the second half full of confidence but their third goal proved where their strengths lie.

Oliver Norwood whipped in a delicious ball for McLaughlin to head home his first international goal in his 13th appearance.

Captain Davis capped off the perfect evening with their final goal of the night in front of their passionate home supporters, deflecting home a vicious Brunt strike.