Euro 2016 qualifiers: Qualified Northern Ireland face foiled Finland
A 3-1 triumph over Greece in their previous Euro 2016 qualifying encounter saw Northern Ireland historically reach their first major tournament since 1986, and Michael O’Neill’s men can go into the final clash with Finland on a high.
The Green and White Army are 5/2 with Coral to overcome their Finnish opposition on the road, with Mixu Paatelainen’s hosts having already failed to qualify for France after slipping four points adrift of Hungary in Group F before their final fixture.
Having stormed to the summit of the standings ahead of Romania and Hungary, O’Neill was obviously jubilant, as Northern Ireland can now prepare for their first ever European finals.
“The players were outstanding. Right through the team, they were magnificent,” stated O’Neill. “This shows the potential of this team and of football in Northern Ireland.
“How have we done it? I’m not really sure. The players deserve the ultimate credit.
“We have confidence and belief which comes from winning games. I’m proud to stand here as their manager. The preparations for France start now.”
Southampton midfielder Steven Davis was on target twice during the Greece victory at Windsor Park in Belfast, and the Premier League ace is 33/1 to strike another double or more, while goalkeeper-turned-striker Josh Magennis is 2/1 to follow up his recent goal with another anytime.
Northern Ireland’s successful qualifying campaign has been primarily built on the scoring exploits of Norwich City frontman Kyle Lafferty, and the targetman is 13/2 to open proceedings on his return from suspension, having missed the Greece win. The Canaries centre forward is also a tasty 10/1 to notch-up a brace or more on his comeback to action.
Finland’s key attacking danger could be that of Joel Pohjanpalo, who has three in nine qualifying appearances, and the 21-year-old Fortuna Dusseldorf forward is 7/4 to strike past the Northern Irish rear guard on home turf.
After such an emotional night in Belfast, the visiting nation may be suffering from the aftermath of their celebrations, and Finland are 23/20 to capitalise with a victory, while a stalemate is available at 2/1.
Betting tip: Kyle Lafferty scores two or more @ 10/1