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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
IFA backs Sanchez's press no-show
Lawrie Sanchez
Sanchez has been Northern Ireland manager since January 2004
Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez did not speak to the press after the 3-2 win over Spain for "personal reasons", according to an IFA chief.

It is believed Sanchez has suffered a family bereavement and chief executive Howard Wells revealed that a statement about the matter would be released.

"It's been a very pressurised week for Lawrie but he rose to the occasion and showed tremendous leadership.

"After the match he felt he had done his bit and I respect that."

Wells added: "Let's focus on the things that went right."

Wells went on to give the Northern Ireland boss a vote of confidence.

"Lawrie has done an outstanding job for us. He is contracted with us until the end of the campaign and is not under pressure from the IFA."

606 VIEW

The Northern Ireland team lost 3-0 to Iceland on Saturday but responded by coming from behind twice to beat Spain thanks to a hat-trick from David Healy.

Hat-trick hero Healy said the win over Spain answered the criticism heaped on the team after the defeat by Iceland.

"We let down people on Saturday but what was written got a little bit out of hand," said Healy after Wednesday's amazing Euro 2008 qualifier victory.

"We showed our character more than anything tonight and that should be a lesson for everybody.

"We wanted to put a bit of pride back in the Northern Ireland jersey."

The Northern Ireland fans booed the players after Saturday's defeat and Healy acknowledged that the reception had "disappointed" the players.

After the Iceland defeat, manager Lawrie Sanchez blamed the media for raising false expectations about his team and hat-trick hero Healy also alluded to this issue after Wednesday's win.

"What the hype is, comes from the way we have performed over the last couple of years and some of the results we had got.

It has been a difficult and traumatic time

IFA chief executive Howard Wells after Lawrie Sanchez refused to attend a post-match press conference

"People want us to perform like that all the time. It didn't happen for us on Saturday and all the players were even more disappointed that the fans."

While Sanchez didn't want to talk to the press, debutant Jonny Evans was happy to hail the victory as "one of the best days of my life".

"It's unbelievable," the Manchester United youngster told BBC Northern Ireland.

Hopefully we answered a few things that were asked of us and hopefully shut a few people up

NI skipper Aaron Hughes

"We'd like to thank the fans, they were tremendous. They really got behind us and after Saturday we really owed it to the fans.

"I was just delighted to get an opportunity and I wanted to take it, to rub shoulders with and beat the megastars of Spain."

Captain Aaron Hughes said: "We're delighted not just with the result but how we went about it.

"Hopefully we answered a few things that were asked of us and hopefully shut a few people up. We were disappointed on Saturday but got our just rewards today.

"We've beaten one of the best teams in the world."

The result capped an eventful few days for Hughes as his wife gave birth to the couple's second child on Sunday.

Sanchez salutes fans after NI win
06 Sep 06 |  Internationals
Healy says win answered criticism
06 Sep 06 |  Internationals
Northern Ireland 3-2 Spain
06 Sep 06 |  Internationals
Boss Sanchez deflated by defeat
02 Sep 06 |  Internationals
Northern Ireland 0-3 Iceland
02 Sep 06 |  Internationals

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