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San Marino 0-3 Northern Ireland

Grant McCann and Gareth McAuley
Grant McCann celebrates with Gareth McAuley after the opening goal

Northern Ireland moved into second spot in World Cup Qualifying Group Three by comfortably beating San Marino.

Gareth McAuley smashed a right-foot half-volley into the roof of the net in the fifth minute and Grant McCann curled home a shot from 20 yards on 32.

Chris Brunt fired in a free-kick from 30 yards on 63 minutes and Manuel Marani was sent off six minutes later.

George McCartney, Steve Davis and Kyle Lafferty were all booked and miss the next game against Poland on 28 March.

Northern Ireland got off to the best possible start when McAuley fired past goalkeeper Federico Valentini from McCann's right-wing corner for his first international goal.

McCann crossed an identical corner in the 13th minute but Stephen Craigan fired just wide from inside the penalty area.

Lafferty became the first visiting player to be booked, for a trip, on 17 minutes, but the striker almost made amends soon after, his low, right-foot shot being saved by Valentini.

After 32 minutes, Martin Paterson had a shot blocked but McCann was on hand to collect the ball and curl a 20-yard effort into the net, his third goal at international level.

It's not all doom and gloom - Worthington

Lafferty then curled a shot from the left flank inches over the bar and just before the break, David Healy collected a McCann pass but shot into the side netting.

The home side pressed in the early stages of the second half and full-back Carlo Valentini was just wide of the target with a right-foot strike.

On the hour, McCann's free-kick from the left wing skimmed the top of the bar and three minutes later, substitute Brunt's free-kick travelled through a crowded penalty area and into the net.

McCann had a shot blocked and then Davis was booked for a foul on Marani.

Marani then received his second booking, reducing San Marino to 10 men and with ten minutes remaining, McCartney was harshly yellow-carded.


San Marino: Federico Valentini, Carlo Valentini, Della Valle, Davide Simoncini, Vannucci, Bacciocchi (Fabio Vitaioli 79), Berretti, Muccioli (Bugli 67), Michele Marani, Matteo Vitaioli (Casadei 86), Manuel Marani.
Subs Not Used: Aldo Simoncini, Cibelli, Andreini, Albani.

Sent Off: Manuel Marani (71).

Booked: Muccioli, Manuel Marani.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, McAuley, Craigan, Hughes (McCourt 81), McCartney, Johnson, McCann, Davis, Healy, Paterson (Feeney 76), Lafferty (Brunt 55).
Subs Not Used: Mannus, McGivern, McGinn, Shiels.

Booked: Lafferty, Davis, McCartney.

Goals: McAuley 6, McCann 32, Brunt 63.

Att: 2,000

Ref: Dragomir Stankovic (Serbia).



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see also
Worthington bemoans 'blip' in win
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
International football as it happened
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Healy hoping to add to goal tally
08 Feb 09 |  Internationals
International football photos
11 Feb 09 |  Football
Gillespie omitted from NI squad
02 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Pick your N Ireland XI
06 Jun 07 |  Internationals


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