Northern Ireland 1-0 Luxembourg: Malget calamity hands O'Neill fifth straight win

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Northern Ireland prepared for their Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany with a fifth straight win as Kevin Malget's own goal gifted them a 1-0 friendly victory over Luxembourg.

Ahead of Monday's meeting with the 2014 World Cup winners, Michael O'Neill made eight changes for Thursday's friendly in Belfast.

A lack of cohesion in Northern Ireland's play was evident in a first half that Luxembourg dominated, though Bailey Peacock-Farrell was not tested before Malget's calamitous mistake put the hosts ahead.

O'Neill took the chance to blood more of Northern Ireland's youngsters in the second half, as his side comfortably maintained their winning run.

Maurice Deville should have capped a well-crafted Luxembourg attack off in the 20th minute, but failed to keep his close-range header down.

Unfortunately for Luxembourg, Malget had no such issues at the other end eight minutes before half-time, when the defender headed George Saville's wayward effort into his own net.

Jordan Thompson and Gavin Whyte both wanted penalties in quick succession shortly after the hour, but their appeals fell on deaf ears.

Thompson squandered a fine chance to put the game to bed with 16 minutes remaining, though his failure to drill home Shayne Lavery's cut-back ultimately mattered little.


What does it mean? O'Neill learns little ahead of Germany clash

Northern Ireland lead the way in qualifying Group C, with four wins from four, though Germany also have a perfect record from their three outings.

However, O'Neill will hardly have learned much from Thursday's victory, with his focus seemingly on utilising Northern Ireland's back-up players, though they will need to be much more potent going forward if they are to trouble Germany's defence.

Saville gets his reward

Middlesbrough's Saville is yet to score his first international goal, but his effort in keeping the home side's attack alive led to Malget's error, and the midfielder's work rate and industry in the centre of the park will be key to Northern Ireland's chances against Germany.

A miserable night for Malget

There should have been little danger from Saville's cross, but Malget got his attempted clearance all wrong. It was a dreadful, bizarre error, and one the defender did not get chance to atone for as he was taken off at half-time.

What's next?

Heavyweights Germany visit Windsor Park on Monday, while Luxembourg continue their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign against Serbia the following day.