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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Poland 1-0 Northern Ireland
Tony Capaldi (left) battles for possession with Poland's Bartosz Karwan
Northern Ireland suffered heartbreak in Warsaw as Maciej Zurawski's 85th minute goal earned Poland victory in the World Cup qualifier.

A brilliant goalkeeping display by Maik Taylor had looked set to earn Lawrie Sanchez's side a battling point.

James Quinn was denied by Jerzy Dudek early on but Taylor produced superb saves in both halves to deny Zurawski, Sebastian Mila and Tomasz Frankowski.

NI's qualification hopes are now over despite the much-improved display.

The home side had the first shot on target in the fifth minute and Taylor took no chances when tipping Zurawski's 25-yard free-kick over the bar for a corner.

However, Northern Ireland then went close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute when Dudek had to move smartly to turn a Quinn drive out for a corner.

The chance had been set up by Keith Gillespie's run and cross with David Healy also claiming that he had been bundled to the ground in the area prior to Quinn's snapshot.

As the visitors continued their bright start, Quinn was then inches away from connecting with a Healy free-kick in the 14th minute with Dudek hopelessly out of position.

Keith Gillespie (left) tries to get past Poland's Tomasz Rzasa
Keith Gillespie set up James Quinn's early chance for N Ireland

However, Poland began to string a few passes together midway through the half and Taylor reacted brilliantly to save a point-blank header from Zurawski in the 24th minute.

Four minutes later, Taylor was called up to make a save after hesitation in the Northern Ireland defence had allowed Jacek Krzynowek to get in a shot from the edge of the box.

Northern Ireland then suffered a blow when the lively Quinn was forced to depart because of a back injury which saw the introduction of Warren Feeney.

The Poles tried to inject more urgency after the break and Williams did brilliantly to block a point-blank Frankowski chance in the 49th minute.

Kaluzny tried to catch Taylor off his line with a shot from over 45 yards but the Irish keeper managed to get back to gather.

Taylor's handling was again impeccable in the 66th when he saved a low shot from Polish substitute Mila who had been introduced for Radoslaw Kaluzny.

The Birmingham man produced an even better save four minutes later to deny Frankowski when the Pole looked certain to open the scoring.

The Poles seemed to be running out of ideas but a lapse of concentration by the Irish defence allowed the unmarked Zurawski to head home five minutes from time after a Krzynowek cross.

It was hard luck on Sanchez's side who had improved massively from Saturday's hammering by England.

Poland: Dudek, Klos, Rzasa (Kielbowicz 45), Baszcyznski, Kaluzny (Mila 67), Bak, Karwan (Rasiak 74), Krzynowek, Zurawski, Szymkowiak, Frankowski.
Subs Not Used: Boruc, Hajto, Smolarek, Sobolewski.

Booked: Mila.

Goals: Zurawski 86.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, Baird, Murdock, Williams (Elliott 88), Hughes, Capaldi, Gillespie, Davis, Whitley, Healy (Smith 81), Quinn (Feeney 35).
Subs Not Used: Carroll, Craigan, Mulryne, Doherty.

Booked: Quinn, Healy, Whitley, Murdock, Baird.

Att: 13,500.

Ref: Peter Frojdfeldt (Sweden).

Report: BBC Radio Five Live's Ian Dennis

Interview: Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez

NI skipper Hughes rues late lapse
30 Mar 05 |  Internationals

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