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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK

Sport: Football

Ziege increases NI woe

Oliver Bierhoff celebrates Germany's first goal

Germany 4-0 Northern Ireland

Hat-trick hero Christian Ziege of Middlesbrough inspired Germany to an easy victory over Northern Ireland.

The BBC's Steve Watson: "The European champions took the foot off the pedal"
It left the defending champions in perfect position to top their group and automatically qualify for next year's Euro 2000 finals.

Northern Ireland have already crashed out of the tournament, conceding seven goals in the same week as manager Lawrie McMenemy was offered a new contract.

His team were overwhelmed, failing get a single shot on target.

[ image: Stephen Morrow (right) evades Germany's Mehmet Scholl]
Stephen Morrow (right) evades Germany's Mehmet Scholl
Germany did so as early as the the third minute when in-form captain Oliver Bierhoff pounced on a Mehmet Scholl freekick which had struck the post.

Ziege centred the loose ball to Bierhoff and emerged as man of the match by scoring Germanys next three goals before half time.

The first began in the centre circle when Lothar Matthaus made a perfect pass 40 metres to Oliver Neuville in the 16th minute.

The stylish winger tempted Northern Ireland's German-born keeper Maik Taylor off his line and then whipped the ball to Ziege who was waiting expectantly in the middle.

In the 33rd minute the Middlesbrough wing-back cut the Northern Irish defence apart after a lovely one-two with Bierhoff.

On the stroke of half time his hat trick was complete when Scholl danced by a flat-footed Northern Irish defender and slipped the ball through to Ziege.

Lawrie the joker

The second half was goalless, leaving McMenemy to joke afterwards: "I thought they were four very lucky goals and three of them were offside."

But the veteran was still proud of his players despite this second heavy defeat in four days.

"In the second-half we played for pride and I thought the players didn't let anyone down," he said.

"This was a very very hard game for us particularly when the Germans had to win.

Happy Boro man

Ziege is enjoying a new lease of life this season following his £4m move from AC Milan to Middlesbrough in the summer and he said: "I am very happy now.

"After starting well with Middlesbrough I wanted to also do well for the national team. It's fantastic and I'm back.

"I hope I can go back to Middlesbrough and keep playing well and also do well in my next game for Germany against Turkey."


Germany: Lehmann, Babbel, Ziege, Linke, Nowotny, Jeremies, Scholl, Neuville, Bierhoff, Matthaus, Bode. Subs: Butt, Neuendorf, Worns, Schneider, Nerlinger, Strunz, Janker.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, Nolan, Horlock, Lomas, Williams, Morrow, McCarthy, Lennon, Dowie, M. Hughes, Kennedy. Subs: Wright, A. Hughes, Jenkins, Rowland, Robinson, Gillespie, Quinn.

Referee: G Bikas (Greece)

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