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Wales and Northern Ireland finish honours even in Cardiff

With preparations now fully underway for Euro 2016, Chris Coleman and Michael O'Neill overcame the rainy conditions and injury woes to experiment with their squads.

Craig Cathcart scores the first goal for Northern Ireland
Rebecca NadenREUTERS

The Cardiff City Stadium was the venue for Thursday's friendly between the British Isles’ least populous nations. Chris Coleman’s Welsh warriors played hosts to Northern Ireland for a match in which the two managers used their long lists of injuries as opportunities to experiment with some less frequently featured players.

The lack of star-studded talent, the near empty stadium and the showery conditions in the Welsh capital pointed to it being a bit of a wash out and that's exactly how it played out in the first half. Neither of the goalkeepers were called into much action during the opening 45 minutes as both sides toothlessly trundled around the pitch failing to create anything looking remotely like danger.

Things picked up a bit after the break. O´Neill and Coleman took full advantage of the unlimited substitutes at their disposal and the fresh legs seemed to jolt the game into life somewhat. Northern Ireland didn´t dazzle but were composed and played to their strengths, quick pressing and set pieces. The guests opened the scoring through a well-worked corner kick.

Wales played with more urgency after going behind but a deep-lying and disciplined back line proved difficult to break down. That was until Simon Church was introduced into the mix. The Milton Keynes Dons front man harried and hassled the Northern Irish defence and eventually won and converted a penalty near the death.


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