Serbia and Northern Ireland may be going to the halftime break in Belgrade with a surprising scoreline, but it hasn't surprised many at the stadium. That's because there aren't many people at the stadium. Those in attendance include the players, the coaching staff, the referees, game officials and a handful of fans in the upper deck that traveled from Northern Ireland. That's about it because the match is being played behind closed doors as punishment for rioting and clashing with police during their qualifier against Italy.
So in front of an empty stadium Serbia and Northern Ireland have played half of a Euro 2012 qualifier that has a pretty routine scoreline, 1-0, but it's not the team that was expected to win the match that is ahead. A 38th minute free kick from the right by Chris Brunt found the head of Gareth McAuley for a looping head that got over the keeper and then dipped below the bar to give Northern Ireland the lead.
Serbia were the heavy favorite coming into the match, but not only are they behind, they've clearly been the poorer side. While Northern Ireland have pushed forward, found some success in wide spaces and been given far too much space at the edge of the box, Serbia haven't made too many forays forward.
With a loss to Estonia already in the books this qualifying campaign, Serbia cannot afford to drop points at home to Northern Ireland, but it looks like they might. Meanwhile, a win here and Northern Ireland could move into second place in Group C.