Kick-off: 1945, 26/03/2023
Stadium: Windsor Park
TV: Viaplay Sports
Northern Ireland will be keen to build on a solid 2-0 success in San Marino when hosting Finland in their second Euro 2024 qualifier.
The visitors kicked off their campaign with a 3-1 defeat in Denmark, when repeatedly struggling to cope with crosses into the box.
We’re happy to take 31/20 for a home win as our first Northern Ireland vs Finland prediction.
O’Neill in optimistic mood
Michael O’Neill’s side duly took advantage of a kind opening fixture in Serravalle, with Dion Charles bagging both goals.
The Bolton striker got on the end of a Conor Washington cross to break the deadlock on 24 minutes.
He then headed in a second 10 minutes after the interval and was only denied a hat-trick by a deflection.
San Marino did have the ball in the back of the net, but that goal was ruled out for offside.
“We now have to go into Sunday’s game and put in a performance that gets people excited about this team,” O’Neill said.
“We are missing some big players but we saw little glimpses of the future in the players we had on the pitch.”
With the Green and White Army cheering them on in Belfast, this is a good chance to establish a strong platform for the rest of the group stage.
Looking at the 29/10 for a home win by any one-goal margin.
Finland defence fragile on crosses
Finland fell behind in Copenhagen when Rasmus Hojlund neatly turned in a low cross and Lukas Hradecky then had to be alert to prevent an own goal.
The Eagle-owls equalised against the run of play when Norwich forward Teemu Pukki teed up Oliver Antman on the break and he struck coolly on 53 minutes.
With just over an hour gone, Hradecky denied Hojlund with his feet in a one-on-one battle before Joakim Maehle fired against the crossbar from long range.
Hradecky did well to keep out a Hojlund header but the Atalanta front man netted twice late on to complete his hat-trick.
Antman told the UEFA website: “This was probably the hardest game we will have in the group.
“A 1-1 draw would have been an amazing result. We’re not feeling too good, but we move on and I’m sure we can qualify.”
Finland qualified for Euro 2020 and have since had respectable World Cup and Nations League campaigns, but they do now have an inexperienced defence.
Norn Iron’s style of play could unsettle them here and 9/1 for a 2-1 home win is added to our Northern Ireland vs Finland betting tips.
San Marino 0-2 NORTHERN IRELAND – Dion Charles (2)
Denmark 3-1 FINLAND – Oliver Antman
Head-to-head: Finland 1-1 N Ireland, N Ireland 2-1 Finland, N Ireland 3-3 Finland
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