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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
NI U21s hit by late equaliser
Southampton's Chris Baird has been called up to the Northern Ireland senior panel
Chris Baird scored Northern Ireland's goal
Northern Ireland U21s 1-1 Ukraine U21s

Northern Ireland Under-21s had to settle for a point in Tuesday's European Championship qualifier in Ballymena.

Chris Baird opened the scoring only for substitute Taras Kabanov to equalise with seven minutes remaining.

Baird, called up to Sammy McIlroy's squad for Wednesday's Euro 2004 qualifier, struck with a marvellous goal six minutes before half-time.

The Southampton man raced forward and sent a 30-yard low drive skidding past the keeper, the ball going into the net off the post.

But it was not enough as Ukraine produced a late leveller.

Bright start

It was another blow for Northern Ireland who have not enjoyed much good fortune in their opening two games in Group Six.

They looked like holding Spain to a draw last Saturday in Almansa only to go down to a goal in stoppage time.

Northern Ireland made a bright start with the pacy Pat McCourt picking out his Rochdale colleague Lee McEvilly in the fifth minute.

The big striker powered in a shot only to see it clear the bar.

That spurred Ukraine into action and Elliot Morris got down quickly to save a shot from Oleksi Bielik.

Ukraine continued to look threatening but were stunned when the home side took the lead.

Increasingly desperate

Northern Ireland had not won in two years but Baird's goal gave them a lift going into the second half.

However, the Ukrainians were determined to get back in the game as quickly as possible after two successive draws.

They became increasingly desperate in the last 20 minutes in an effort to try and salvage something from the game.

Northern Ireland looked to be holding out for a rare victory until seven minutes from time when substitute Kabanov equalised.


N Ireland 0-0 Ukraine

Ukraine in focus

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