Arsenal youngster Daniel Ballard scored his first-ever international goal for Northern Ireland against Lithuania at the LFF Stadium in Vilnius last night.
The 21-year-old started on the left side of a three-man defence that also featured Craig Cathcart and Paddy McNair. The Irish went into the game against Lithuania as the favourites and they won convincingly.
Ballard opened the scoring in the 20th minute, which helped Northern Ireland go into half-time with a 1-0 lead. Three second-half goals from Conor Washington, Shayne Lavery and Paddy McNair made sure it was an emphatic win for Ian Baraclough’s men.
Arsenal youngster Ballard impresses
Ballard’s goal was a simple one, but he still had to put it in. He was absolutely delighted to score his first-ever international goal last night, but his first job as a defender is to defend, and he did that brilliantly as well.
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In his 90 minutes on the pitch, he registered seven clearances, two tackles, two interceptions and blocked one shot. He won every single one of his six attempted duels as well – both on the ground and in the air – which is a fantastic return. (SofaScore)
Everyone in and around Arsenal has really high hopes for Ballard. He was fantastic on loan at Blackpool last season and has had a really good start in the Championship with Milwall so far as well. He’s now shining on the international stage too, which is excellent for us.
Arsenal fans, predictably, were blown away by Ballard’s performance last night. Here’s how a few Gooners reacted on Twitter…