Defender will miss next month's clash vs Greece through suspensionFleetwood Town defender Conor McLaughlin moved one step closer to Euro 2016 qualification on Monday night as Northern Ireland drew 1-1 with Hungary in Belfast.
A stoppage time equaliser from Kyle Lafferty ensured the Green and White Army secured a point despite being reduced to ten men after Chris Baird’s dismissal.
In an emotional evening at Windsor Park, McLaughlin and his team mates knew that a win would secure automatic qualification.
However a stubborn Hungarian side nearly spoilt the party by taking all three points back to home when Richard Guzmics capitalised on a goalkeeping mistake from Michael McGovern with 16 minutes to play.
Matters worsened for Northern Ireland as minutes later as Baird was sent off for two rapid yellow card offences.
These two strikes of bad luck seemed to roar McLaughlin and the other nine Irish players left on the pitch and Lafferty snapped up his seventh goal of the Group F campaign to equalise.
Goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly could not hold substitute Niall McGinn's low drive to put qualification back in Northern Ireland's own hands.
McLaughlin did pick up a yellow card during the match and will now miss the next qualifier at home to Greece on the 8th October. Three days later they will face Finland, a nation still with hopes of claiming the third place Play-Off position.
A win in either of those two matches or two draws will confirm Northern Ireland’s passage to Euro 2016 next summer with qualification still firmly in Michael O’Neill’s side’s hands.
McLaughlin will now link back up with the Fleetwood Town side ahead of this weekend’s League One contest against Bradford City at Highbury Stadium.