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Northern Ireland U-21s 1-2 Serbia U-21s: Late Pantovic strike sees hosts lose
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Northern Ireland Under-21s boss Tommy Wright (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Northern Ireland Under-21s boss Tommy Wright (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Northern Ireland Under-21s lost 2-1 to Serbia in their Euro 2025 qualifier after Milos Pantovic struck a late winner at Mourneview Park.

Ciaran McGuckin cancelled out Vladimir Lucic’s opener with a second-half spot-kick, but the visitors took full advantage of a moment of Northern Irish indecision to seal all three points.

Serbia skipper Lucic handed his side a 1-0 lead with a super strike, dodging his marker before tucking the ball past a sprawling Stephen McMullan, who soon made a good save to deny the visitors a quick second.

The hosts came close when Charlie Allen crossed from the edge of the area, looking for Justin Devenny, who was within inches of an equaliser at the far post but the ball instead took a deflection off a Serbian defender before bouncing out of danger.

Northern Ireland drew level after the break when Marko Lazetic barged into Tommy Fogarty and, despite Serbia’s protestations, Norwegian referee Kristoffer Hagenes deemed the off-the-ball shove forceful enough to award the hosts a penalty, dutifully struck into the bottom right by McGuckin.

It took a fine save by Veljko Ilic to stop a surging JJ McKiernan from handing Northern Ireland the lead before Pantovic pounced on a loose ball inside the box, which appeared to hit his hand as it bounced up before tapping in the winner.

No handball was awarded, however, the Serbian’s effort ultimately proving enough to seal the result.

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