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The BBC's Peter Slater
"Hungary were a different proposition"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 21:27 GMT 22:27 UK
NI fall foul of Hungary bite
NI
Northern Ireland could not hold on to their record
Northern Ireland 0-1 Hungary

Sammy McIlroy's unbeaten run as Northern Ireland manager came to a crashing end as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Hungary at Windsor Park.

Ghent midfielder Ferenc Horvath did the damage in the 61st minute, skipping through the home defence and striking the ball past the helpless Maik Taylor in the Northern Ireland goal.

McIlroy's side were looking for their third consecutive win, but found Hungary to be stubborn opponents.

The Windsor Park faithful never looked as if they were going to see a goal from the home side, with young striker David Healy going the closest on the night.

The game was certainly not for the purist, as a rain-soaked Belfast produced an often static game for the fans, who braved the conditions to come and watch.

But there was a cheer when Leicester City defender Gerry Taggart made his first international appearance after a two-year exile, as captain.

Missed chance

The visitors started sprightly when they won a corner as early as the second minute of the match.

However, Hungary's full back Peto wasted an excellent chance from Janos Hrutka's left wing cross when he completely miscued his volley on the edge of the box.

Irish striker Healy, who scored three goals in his first two games for the national team, began to stamp his authority on the match.

The Manchester United forward headed a Danny Sonner flick on, only to see his effort fall into the arms of Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly's, following a Michael Hughes corner.

Healy should have added a fourth goal to his tally after he was sent thorugh by midfielder Neil Lennon.

But the striker only managed to screw his shot wide of the Hungary goal.

The visitors almost took advantage of the missed chance, when Sandor Preisinger looked set to finish Ferenc Horvath's lay-off in the six-yard box - but full-back Danny Griffin slid in to clear before he could shoot.

There was scant enterprise in McIlroy's midfield, and although Lennon and Sonner could not be faulted for thier work rate, there was little imagination that came from any of their play.

But Northern Ireland keeper Taylor was hardly troubled either, as the visitors rarely troubled the home goal.

McIlroy's men never looked to find an extra gear and the Hungary midfield did well to subdue the threat of the tricky Keith Gillespie and Wimbledon's Michael Hughes.

The visitors were rewarded for their workmanlike performance when influential midfielder Horvath produced his solo burst to claim the winning goal.

And as much as Northern Irealnd persevered to try and find an answer, Hungary held on for a fine away victory.

Teams:

Northern Ireland: Taylor, Griffin, Nolan, A. Hughes, Taggart, Sonner, Gillespie, Lennon, Kirk, Healy, M. Hughes. Subs: Fettis, M. Williams, Coote, Murdock, Johnson, Mulryne, Robinson.

Hungary: Kiraly, Hrutka, C. Feher, Matyus, V. Sebok, Lendvai, Petry, Dardai, Horvath, Illis, Preisinger. Subs: Hamar, Halmai, Herczeg, Korsas, Dragoner, Lisztes, Vezera.

Referee: C Richards (Wales)

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