Hearts striker Liam Boyce was delighted to score his first competitive goal for Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw with Romania in Belfast on Wednesday night [Northern Ireland].

Ian Baraclough handed Boyce his second consecutive start in the Nations League fixture and he repaid the manager’s faith by putting his team in front in the 56th minute.

Northern Ireland v Romania - UEFA Nations League

Hearts striker Liam Boyce scores for Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The 29-year-old bundled home a cross from fellow Jambos star Michael Smith to net for his country for the first time since June 2017.

“It’s actually my first competitive goal, so it’s massive,” he said [Northern Ireland]. “Obviously, I’ve scored here before against New Zealand, but to do it in a competitive game means a lot more to me.”

“At half-time, Austin (MacPhee) came in and he must have seen something, so he drew it up. They kept three players high and we let Michael break off it as a bit of a risk, but obviously, it paid off.

“It was Michael on his left foot, it was a great ball and I just sort of had to get in that area and force it over the line.”

Northern Ireland v Romania - UEFA Nations League B

Boyce ended a three-year international goal drought. (Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The hosts weren’t able to hold onto their lead, with Eric Bicfalvi’s 81st-minute equaliser ensuring the points were shared.

This contribution will have done Boyce’s chances of establishing himself as a regular starter no harm, though, with the forward also impressing with his hold-up play in all three of his international appearances over the past week.

He will now return to Hearts full of confidence, as the Edinburgh club look to build on their strong start to the Championship season.

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