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Northern Ireland can ease past San Marino

O'Neill's men to solidify group position

Kyle Lafferty will relish the San Marino clash
1 of 1

World Cup qualifying
Sky Sports Main Event & Mix, 7.45pm Friday

Northern Ireland are in prime position to secure the runners-up spot in World Cup qualifying Group C and their place in the playoffs could be almost assured following this round of matches.

Northern Ireland are five points adrift of group leaders Germany in second place and four points clear of the Czech Republic, who look the primary rivals to Michael O’Neill’s men.

However, with the Czechs facing a home clash with Germany, Northern Ireland could find themselves seven points clear of their main pursuers before Monday’s showdown in Belfast.

That’s assuming Northern Ireland get the better of San Marino and the betting suggest it’s a mere formality, with Northern Ireland 1-16 with Hills to do the business.

San Marino are 100-1 shots to secure only their second ever victory.

So Northern Ireland should dot up and it’s just a case of by how much.


More previews

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Lithuania v Scotland


A 3-0 victory at 4-1 is favourite on the correct-score market with 2-0 and 4-0 trading at similar prices and that may be the way to go. A win to nil chalked up at dismissive odds of 2-9.

San Marino were put away 4-0 when they rocked up in Belfast in October so it may pay to back a repeat, although erring on the side of caution in such a tricky trip could be a sound ploy.

O’Neill has been forced into changes in defence with Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart missing but he has the firepower to secure another crucial three points ahead of the Czech clash.

Recommendations
Northern Ireland to win 3-0
1pt 4-1 Betway
Northern Ireland to win 4-0
1pt 4-1 Betway, Sky Bet, Paddy Power

Bet on this match at Soccerbase.com

Team news
San Marino
Goalkeeper Elia Benedettini has not been released by his club Novara so Aldo Simoncini could get the nod in goal. Filippo Berardi will be the only professional in the ranks. Pier Mazza is suspended.

Northern Ireland
Craig Cathcart is out with a knee injury. Hearts defender Michael Smith will replace Cathcart who joins Gareth McAuley on the sidelines for this and Monday’s showdown with the Czech Republic.

Key stat
Northern Ireland have won each of their three meetings with San Marino by an aggregate of 11-0

San Marino are 100-1 shots to secure only their second ever victory
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