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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 21:16 GMT 22:16 UK
Northern Ireland 3-2 Spain
Keith Gillespie (left) and David Healy
Healy (right) and Keith Gillespie celebrate Healy's first half goal
David Healy's hat-trick helped Northern Ireland claim a shock victory over Spain in Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier at Windsor Park.

Healy punished a Xabi Alonso mistake to level from close range shortly after Barcelona star Xavi had volleyed Spain ahead with 14 minutes gone.

David Villa restored Spain's lead on 52 minutes but Healy converted Sammy Clingan's free-kick to level.

Healy then ensured the home win with a glorious lobbed winner on 80 minutes.

The final whistle sparked off scenes of wild jubilation as the home crowd savoured a fine victory just days after the miserable 3-0 home defeat to Iceland.

Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez reacted to Saturday's dismal home defeat by making four changes with Michael Duff and debutant Jonny Evans coming into the defence and Kyle Lafferty and Roy Carroll also earning starts.

The changes seemed to have the desired effect with the home side showing great urgency right from the start.

606 VIEW

In the second minute, full-back Duff found himself in behind the Spain defence but he was unable to pick out the unmarked Healy in the middle.

Carroll's return to the Northern Ireland team proved short-lived as he was forced off in 12th minute because of an apparent groin injury.

Two minutes later, replacement keeper Maik Taylor was picking the ball out of his own net with the unmarked Xavi superbly volleying home from 12 yards after Antonio Lopez had outwitted Keith Gillespie to whip in a cross.

However, Northern Ireland were on terms within six minutes when Healy stabbed the ball home after a dreadful mistake by Alonso.

The Liverpool player inexplicably allowed a harmless-looking ball to bounce in his own area and compounded the error by attempting to nod back to Iker Casillas which allowed Healy to nip in to score his 21st international goal.

Spain attempted to regroup and Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas, who had already replaced David Albelda, powered in a dangerous shot in the 35th minute which was deflected to safety.

NI's Steve Davis tries to get past Spain's Antonio Lopez
Steve Davis battles for possession with Spain's Antonio Lopez

But the partisan atmosphere at Windsor Park - with 14,500 fans jam-packed inside - appeared to be getting to the Spaniards, who conceded a number of needless free-kicks.

Northern Ireland continued to cause Spain problems immediately after half-time with the lively Keith Gillespie shooting inches over.

However, Spain went ahead against the run of play through Villa, who produced a clever finish after a mix-up in the Northern Ireland defence.

But Northern Ireland heads refused to drop and they were on terms again in the 64th minute with Healy thumping home Clingan's short free-kick in a move clearly rehearsed on the training ground.

Spain were inches away from leading again when Raul's close-range shot came back off the woodwork.

Northern Ireland would probably have settled for a draw at that stage but the home fans were sent into delirium when Healy lobbed the glorious winner over Casillas from 25 yards.

Inevitably, Spain pushed forward in the closing stages and Taylor did well to push a Puyol shot over the bar as Northern Ireland held on for a famous victory over a team ranked seventh in the world.

Northern Ireland: Carroll (Taylor 12), Duff, Aaron Hughes, Craigan, Evans, Gillespie, Clingan, Davis, Baird, Healy (Feeney 85), Lafferty (Quinn 54).
Subs Not Used: McAuley, Elliott, McCann, Jones.

Booked: Duff, Feeney.

Goals: Healy 20, 64, 80.

Spain: Casillas, Sergio Ramos (Salgado 45), Puyol, Pablo, Antonio Lopez, Albelda (Fabregas 29), Xavi, Alonso, Torres (Luis Garcia 63), Villa, Raul.
Subs Not Used: Reina, Marchena, Reyes, Iniesta.

Booked: Antonio Lopez, Puyol.

Goals: Xavi 14, Villa 52.

Att: 14,500

Ref: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium).

Sanchez salutes fans after NI win
06 Sep 06 |  Internationals
Healy says win answered criticism
06 Sep 06 |  Internationals
Euro 2008 qualifiers clockwatch
06 Sep 06 |  Internationals


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