BELFAST: Euro 2016 finalists Northern Ireland set a record of 10 games unbeaten by defeating Slovenia 1-0 thanks to a goal from Conor Washington on just his second visit to the country.
The benchmark of nine games without defeat, which had been set by Billy Bingham’s team when they reached the 1986 World Cup, was eclipsed in Belfast on Monday night by the next Northern Irish team to qualify for a major international tournament.
Their match-winner was not part of the start of that run, though the Kent-born former postman may have done enough to secure a seat on the plane to France after scoring four minutes before the break.
Washington’s only previous visit to Northern Ireland had been for Peterborough in pre-season and the QPR striker ensured he made his mark during this trip by out-muscling two Slovenia defenders before firing past Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Goalkeeper Roy Carroll had been present for the 2-1 win over Finland 12 months ago when Northern Ireland began their 10-game sequence, and the 38-year-old had a major part to play in preserving the streak by saving a second-half penalty from substitute Milivoje Novakovic.
Wales lost their penultimate Euro 2016 warm-up 1-0 in Ukraine.
Manager Chris Coleman had admitted before heading out to Kiev that the game was a “risk” and now Wales – before Wales’ first major tournament appearance for 58 years – jave won only once in their last six games (against Andorra).
Andriy Yarmolenko’s first-half effort proved enough against Wales, who were once again without key players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey as Coleman set up his side with the summer’s Euro 2016 group game against Russia very much in mind.
Ukraine will also be at Euro 2016 in the same group as Germany, Poland and Northern Ireland and the size of Wales’ task was summed up by the fact they had lost only two of their previous 15 matches, both against reigning European champions Spain.
In other European friendlies Andorra lost 1-0 at home to Moldova and Liechtenstein went down 3-2 at home to Faroe Islands.