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Bet of the Day: Northern Ireland to edge first half in WCQ clash

O’Neill’s men face Switzerland in Belfast

Northern Ireland clash with Switzerland at Windsor Park in the first leg of their play-off to reach World Cup 2018 on Thursday night. And there’s every reason to believe Michael O’Neill’s men can make a strong start on home soil.

Germany and Portugal are the only visiting sides to win a competitive game in Belfast in since mid-2013. In fact, Northern Ireland won four of their first home matches in qualification without conceding a goal – including 2-0 defeats of Norway and the Czech Republic.

That’s generally been based on a strong start. In fact, Norn Iron have led at the interval in 12 of the past 13 home games they’ve won, with seven of their last nine goals at Windsor Park coming before the interval.

With the Swiss behind at the break in three of their previous eight away games, including a visit to the Republic of Ireland, they could well trail at half-time again. Coral’s Bet of the Day is First-Half Result: Northern Ireland at 15/4.

Hosts can edge low-scoring affair

The hosts’ success under O’Neill has largely been based on defensive strength. They managed seven clean sheets in 10 qualifying games, as well as shutouts in three of their past five away trips.

While they found the net in eight of their qualifiers, Northern Ireland haven’t been enormously prolific. That’s meant a slew of fairly low-scoring games, with six of their 10 games producing two goals or fewer.

Switzerland’s WCQ goalscoring record looks solid in theory. However, they faced the likes of Latvia, Faroe Islands and Andorra in qualifying, without scoring more than three goals in a game against the minnows. That doesn’t bode too well for a game against one of European football’s top defences.

The Coral News Team like the look of Northern Ireland to Win and Under 3.5 Goals at 16/5.

Value in Hearts ace finding the net

Time and again, Kyle Lafferty has brought cheer to the Green and White Army. The 30-year-old has been arguably their top performer in WCQ 2018, as well as netting a hugely impressive seven goals to help confirm the side’s place at Euro 2016.

That form had previously contrasted with his nomadic and patchy club career, but the evergreen striker seems to have found his feet with Heart of Midlothian. He’s scored in four of the Jam Tarts’ last seven games, while that figure is eight of 15 for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.

That all means the 21/10 available for Lafferty to Score Anytime looks like a value bet.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing