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banner Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Late goals deny Northern Ireland
Stuart Elliot shields the ball from Tomas Votava
NI's Stuart Elliot shields the ball from Tomas Votava

Czech Republic 3-1 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland were denied a famous draw when the Czech Republic scored twice in the final three minutes to secure victory.

Sammy McIlroy's makeshift side looked set for a memorable result when Philip Mulryne cancelled out Pavel Kuka's opener on the stroke of half-time.

But the Czechs, who hit the woodwork three times, finally made the breakthrough when Kuka scored his second of the World Cup Group Three qualifier before substitute Milan Baros added a third a minute before time.

It was Northern Ireland's fifth successive defeat in the group, but it was still a creditable display from a makeshift team against a nation rated seven in the world.

Little chance

Manager McIlroy, whose team does not even make the top 100, was without a string of regular first choice players.

Gerry Taggart, Jim Magilton, Neil Lennon, Steve Lomas, Keith Gillespie and Kevin Horlock were all missing so Northern Ireland were given little chance.

The Czechs badly needed maximum points, having lost away to Denmark in their previous Group Three game.

But McIlroy's makeshift side put in a gutsy display and frusrated their classier opponents until the last few minutes.

Kuka put the home side into the lead on 39 minutes, shooting in from an unmarked position.

Czechs stunned

Northern Ireland felt Kuka was yards offside when he took Karel Poborsky's pass, but the goal stood.

Minutes earlier an offside flag had saved Northern Ireland when Patrik Berger sent a volley crashing past Maik Taylor.

But Northern Ireland stunned the Czech Republic by equalising in the 45th minute.

Norwich City's Philip Mulryne scored only his second international goal with a far post header after David Healy had hoisted a cross to the far post from the right wing.

Snatched victory

Northern Ireland rode their luck in the second half, especially when Kuka missed from in front of goal and substitute Baros struck a post.

But they could not quite hold on as the Czech Republic snatched the victory with those late goals.

Kuka scored from close-range at the far post after a corner was flicked on in the 88th minute.

And in the 89th, Baros went through to make it three.

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See also:

02 Jun 01 |  World Cup 2002
Northern Ireland beaten again
28 Mar 01 |  World Cup 2002
NI beaten by Bulgaria
24 Mar 01 |  World Cup 2002
Brave Irish beaten by Czechs
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