Thursday, August 23, 2007

Northern Ireland 3-1 Liechtenstein

There were nerves for me at the start of this match because an easy victory is never taken for granted when Northern Ireland have a home match against a statistically inferior side. Our first dismal loss against Iceland reinforces this but luckily such fears evaporated quickly as we set a fantastic pace in the opening minutes.

Once again it was Healy's seemingly magic touch that put us ahead with a fantastic headed finish from Gillespie's cross although you wouldn't have noticed this from Jackie Fullerton's continuous monotonous voice - do people really appreciate his dulcet tones or are they too scared of a public backlash by criticising him?

Any fear of losing composure and allowing an equaliser were soon dismissed as the squad kept their ground and after a few great chances, were rewarded with another cracking Healy goal from 20 yards out.

In the second half, Northern Ireland started strongly again and thoughts of a hat trick were put on ice as Lafferty stepped up and scored with a good strike from 10 yards which was great to see and will hopefully add to his determination to do it again in a more difficult match.

There were several near misses and ruined opportunities in the later stages and Northern Ireland began to lose domination of the game. A loose defense allowed Liechtenstein to score a late goal in what should have been a clean sheet for Taylor.

Overall this is a good result for Northern Ireland and Nigel Worthington's first match as manager proved that the crowd and team are behind Sanchez' departure and looking to the future as they now sit second in the league table with their next match against Latvia.


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