• December 2, 2023

Northern Ireland 0-0 Bulgaria: Hosts forced to settle for scoreless draw against Bulgaria

Captain Steven Davis breaks the British international record with a 126th international for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland had to settle for a disappointing goalless draw despite dominating a toothless Bulgaria at Windsor Park.

Stuart Dallas hit the post with a header in the first half for the hosts, while Gavin Whyte and Niall McGinn fell close after the break.

The guests almost stole a win in the end, but Bailey Peacock-Farrell saved Dimitar Iliev brilliantly.

It leaves Northern Ireland with a point from two World Cup qualifiers.

They are still looking for a first 90 minute win in 11 games under Ian Baraclough.

The next Group C game will take place in Lithuania in September.

With the victory of Gruppenführer Italy against Lithuania, which scores three of three wins, Northern Ireland is in second place behind Switzerland.

After losing 2-0 to Italy in qualifying last week, NI’s hopes of qualifying for a first World Cup final since 1986 are in view of the home and away games in Switzerland after their season resumed in September still pending, gloomy.

What was a damaging draw could have been a devastating defeat if Peacock-Farrell hadn’t dived into overdrive to twist an Iliev header around the post from a corner in added time.

Missed early opportunities prove costly to NI

After a poor start to the game, Northern Ireland began to impose itself on the game and captain Steven Davis did his best to set the pace of his deep-lying midfield role.

He shot an early volley while Josh Magennis soon alerted the Bulgarian defense of his willingness to run and marry, while also posing a threat on goal when he headed Daniel Naumov into a save after a long throw-in.

Josh Magennis was a threat to Northern IrelandJosh Magennis was a threat to Northern Ireland

The Hull City man, who played with teammate Gavin Whyte in the first two games, pulled out an excellent cross from the left, which Dallas found on the back post, and although he leaned back, he got enough power on his header to to hit Naumov, but it was fired from the crossbar.

Magennis threw another header just over the bar, but while he looked lively, hitting partner Whyte was too often too far from Magennis and struggling to score in the first half.

That all changed shortly after the restart when he landed at the end of a downfall from Craig Cathcart, only to punch his volley into the ground and rob him of the strength it took to beat the visiting goalkeeper.

The former Crusaders winger was soon dropped for Niall McGinn, who, despite his unfamiliar role as a center-forward, nearly broke the impasse when he shot just wide after a good move.


Northern Ireland

formation 4-1-3-2

1Peacock Farrell





  • 1Peacock Farrell
  • 4thBallardReplaced byBlacksmithat the 74 ‘protocol
  • 5Evans
  • 20thCathcart
  • 3Lewis
  • 8thDavis
  • 14thDallas
  • 17thMcNairBooked at 33 minutes
  • 6thSavilleBooked at 70 minutesReplaced bykennedyat the 74 ‘protocol
  • 21MagennisReplaced byLaffertyat the 82 ‘protocolBooked at 90 minutes
  • 18thWhyteReplaced byMcGinnat the 64 ‘protocol


  • 2McLaughlin
  • 7thMcGinn
  • 9Charles
  • 10Lafferty
  • 11Ferguson
  • 12thdanger
  • 13thEvans
  • 15thThompson
  • 16McCann
  • 19thBlacksmith
  • 22ndkennedy
  • 23Hughes


formation 3-5-2





  • 1Naumov
  • 2HristovBooked at 24 minutes
  • 4thAntovBooked at 45 minutes
  • 22ndHristov
  • 17thYomovReplaced byKaragarsat the 73 ‘protocol
  • 8thVutovReplaced byIlievat the 45 ‘protocol
  • 7thKostadinovReplaced byVitanovat the 44 ‘protocol
  • 18thChochev
  • 21TsvetanovReplaced byZanevat the 73 ‘protocol
  • 9GalabinovReplaced byIlievat the 73 ‘protocolBooked at 86 minutes
  • 11Despodov


  • 3Zanev
  • 5Vitanov
  • 6thKaragars
  • 10Delev
  • 12thIliev
  • 13thKarajev
  • 14thDimov
  • 15thBozhikov
  • 16Malinov
  • 19thIliev
  • 20thIliev
  • 23Iliev

Live text

  1. End of the game, Northern Ireland 0, Bulgaria 0.

  2. The second half ends, Northern Ireland 0, Bulgaria 0.

  3. Missed attempt. Atanas Iliev’s (Bulgaria) header from the center of the box is a little too high. Prepared by Petar Zanev.

  4. Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland) is shown the yellow card.

  5. Corner, Bulgaria. The corner was caused by Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

  6. Attempt saved. Dimitar Iliev’s (Bulgaria) header from the center of the box is saved in the lower right corner. Assisted by Kiril Despodov with a cross.

  7. Corner, Bulgaria. The corner was created by Craig Cathcart.

  8. Corner, Northern Ireland. The corner was caused by Atanas Iliev.

  9. Atanas Iliev (Bulgaria) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  10. Craig Cathcart (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Foul by Atanas Iliev (Bulgaria).

  12. Attempt blocked. Stuart Dallas (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  13. Corner, Northern Ireland. The corner was scored by Andrea Hristov.

  14. Attempt blocked. Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland) left footed shot from the center of the box is blocked. Prepared by Stuart Dallas.

  15. Missed attempt. Jonny Evans (Northern Ireland) header from the center of the box misses the goal to the left. Assisted by Patrick McNair with a cross following a corner.

  16. Substitution, Northern Ireland. Kyle Lafferty is replacing Josh Magennis.

  17. Corner, Northern Ireland. The corner was scored by Andrea Hristov.

  18. Foul by Steven Davis (Northern Ireland).

  19. Andrea Hristov (Bulgaria) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Attempt blocked. Jamal Lewis (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Prepared by Steven Davis.

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