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Albania 1-0 N Ireland


Action and reaction from the international friendly in Tirana.

Northern Ireland lost to Albania in a dull friendly played on a poor pitch at the Qemal Stafa Stadium in Tirana.

Albania had more possession in the first half and Ervin Skela scored with a fine 25-yard free-kick into the top corner in the 26th minute.

In the second half Stephen Craigan headed against the bar and then fired a shot against a post with Rory Patterson almost scoring from the rebound.

Lorik Cana and Elis Bakey were denied by good saves in the second half.

Northern Ireland were without a number of key regular players and produced a lacklustre display.

The match was played on a quagmire of a playing surface and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Maik Taylor was called into action on 24 minutes when he tipped over a long-range dipping effort from Skela.


Skela's fantastic free-kick was the only moment of quality in a disappointing first period.

Ansi Agolli could have extended Albania's lead but he dragged a shot across the face of goal after a mix-up between Craigan and Andrew Little.

Craigan was denied his first international goal when his header from Grant McCann's corner rebounded off the woodwork.

Maik Taylor saved from a Cana header, and substitute goalkeeper Jonathan Tuffey produced a fine stop from a low drive from Bakey.

For Northern Ireland, Corry Evans skewed a shot wide and then when Craigan hit the post, Patterson, winning his first cap, was denied by goalkeeper Isli Hidi.

The result means there is no end to Northern Ireland's dreadful away record which has seen them record only three victories in 22 matches.

Albania: Hidi, Lila, Dallku, Vangjeli, Angolli, Lala, Curri, Bulku, Duro, Skela, Bogdani. Subs: Beqaj, Cana, Kapllani, Hyka, Bakaj, Vila, Salihi.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, Little, McGivern, McCartney, Craigan, O'Connor, McGinn, Davis, Healy, Lafferty, McCann. Subs: Tuffey, Carson, Kirk, Shiels, Patterson, Evans.

Referee: Elir Pilav (Sarajevo)

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see also
Worthington praises substitutes
03 Mar 10 |  Football
Patterson gets N Ireland call-up
22 Feb 10 |  Football
N Ireland get Italy in Euro draw
07 Feb 10 |  Football
NI to take on Albania in friendly
18 Jan 10 |  Irish

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