Lafferty the saviour for 10-man Northern Ireland
NORTHERN IRELAND: 1 HUNGARY: 1
Kyle Lafferty struck a stoppage-time equaliser as 10-man Northern Ireland salvaged a point against Hungary to keep their Euro 2016 dreams very much on course.
Victory on the 10th anniversary of their famous win over England would have secured Michael O'Neill's men a place in France next summer, but the night looked set to end in acrimony as Michael McGovern's goalkeeping error gifted Richard Guzmics the opener in the 74th minute.
Chris Baird was sent off with eight minutes left, having committed a pair of fouls within seconds, but Lafferty's seventh strike of the campaign - a close-range blast following up Niall McGinn's effort - ensured a 1-1 draw.
With Romania drawing against Greece, O'Neill's men remain top of Group F - though Lafferty will miss the potentially decisive clash with the Greeks next month having picked up a second booking.
Group F: Northern Ireland - 17 Romania - 16 Hungary - 13 Finland - 10 #EURO2016— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) September 7, 2015
It was a frenetic, febrile finish in Belfast but once again showed Northern Ireland's desire to reach a first major tournament in 30 years is alive and kicking.
Lafferty celebrated his close-range effort with gusto, charging down the flank and leaping in joy, but even he cannot have been as pleased as McGovern, whose handling error looked to have settled matters.
"Nerve wracking to say the least," was the verdict of Northern Ireland boss O'Neill.
"We dominated the game first half but Hungary came into it. It was a mistake for the goal and a red card but then we saw true grit.
"It's a massive point for us. At 1-0 down our head-to-head with Hungary was still better as we scored two in Budapest so we couldn't go too gung-ho.
"It wasn't vintage, but it was pure theatre. I've never seen a player booked twice in one incident and I don't agree with it."