The 21-year-old Fleetwood winger Paddy Lane starts at left wing-back for Northern Ireland tonight, as they begin their Nations League campaign at home to Euro 2004 winners Greece. Liverpool’s Conor Bradley, who turns 19 next week, lines up on the opposite flank, with 34-year-old Leicester stalwart Jonny Evans in the middle. Kyle Lafferty, fresh from winning promotion with Kilmarnock, is back in the squad for the first time since last September, and starts on the subs bench.
Bradley will be coming face to face with his Liverpool team-mate, left-back Kostas Tsimikas. Celtic striker Giorgos Giakoumakis leads the line up front, while Sheffield United’s George Baldock, who qualifies for Greece through his grandmother, is on the bench and hoping to make his international debut.
… and we’ve already had a spot of high drama this evening. With eight seconds of four extra minutes to play between Bulgaria and North Macedonia in Razgrad, with the score 1-1, the referee awarded the hosts a penalty when Martin Minchev’s speculative shot hit Visar Musliu on the elbow. VAR got involved, though, and upon second viewing the ref decided Musliu’s elbow was right by the side of his body, while there was little distance between the two players and therefore no time to react. No penalty, and Bulgaria end the evening with smoke pouring out of the old lugs.
Cyprus 0-2 Kosovo
Bulgaria 1-1 North Macedonia
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar
Estonia 2-0 San Marino
Football, having barely stopped for the last two years, keeps on keepin’ on. Just when we thought the players could scoot off for a well-deserved summer holiday – long lie-ins, sunbeds by the pool, tinnies, the whole shebang – here comes the Nations League! Tonight’s big game is the Iberian showdown between Spain and Portugal, though we’ll also keep an eye on Northern Ireland versus Greece, plus all the other 7.45pm BST kick-offs.
There were a few 5pm BST kick-offs as well, and they’ll be finishing in a minute. More on them anon. But in the meantime, here’s tonight’s full card (all times BST):
Czech Republic v Switzerland (7.45pm)
Spain v Portugal (7.45pm)
Albania v Russia (P)
Israel v Iceland (7.45pm)
Serbia v Norway (7.45pm)
Slovenia v Sweden (7.45pm)
Cyprus v Kosovo (5pm)
Northern Ireland v Greece (7.45pm)
Bulgaria v North Macedonia (5pm)
Georgia v Gibraltar (5pm)
Estonia v San Marino (5 pm)
All the news and more as we have it. The 2022-23 Nations League: it’s on!