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Northern Ireland boss Sammy McIlroy
"Second half I thought we were excellent"
 real 56k

Northern Ireland's Phillip Mulryne
"It's always going to be hard coming here"
 real 56k

Saturday, 1 September, 2001, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK
NI earn battling draw
NI's Philip Mulryne
Philip Mulryne celebrates his Northern Ireland equaliser
Denmark 1-1 Northern Ireland

Philip Mulryne's third international goal earned Northern Ireland a superb 1-1 draw against Denmark to end a run of six straight defeats.

Mulryne's 73rd minute header stunned the home crowd after Denmark had missed a host of chances to add to Dennis Rommendahl's third-minute strike.

Stung by Northern Ireland's equaliser, the Danes surged forward in the closing stages but poor finishing enabled the visitors to hang on for a point.

Northern Ireland could even have stolen the game twice in the final five minutes when David Healy broke clear of the home defence.

However, Danish defenders got in to make vital blocks.

I am very proud of the boys, they gave 100 percent and fought to the death
Sammy McIlroy

Northern Ireland boss Sammy McIlroy heaped praise on his players.

Despite Northern Ireland's six successive defeats prior to the Copenhagen clash, McIlroy has been given a new two-year contract.

Saturday's result will be viewed as a vindication of the Irish Football Association's decision to offer McIlroy a new deal.

"I am very proud of the boys, they gave 100 percent and fought to the death," he said.

"I am pleased coming to a place like Denmark and showing such great spirit".

In contrast, Denmark boss Morten Olsen was furious with his team's performance.

"This is a catastrophe. We had a foot and a half in the World Cup, but our form was not good enough today," said Olsen.

Dreadful start

"We are more than disappointed but it is our own fault, we got off to a dream start then we fell asleep.

"The Northern Irish team was well organised," added Olsen.

Already without eight injured players, Sammy McIlroy's side got off to a dreadful start with Colin Murdock's mistake gifting the Danish opener in the third minute.

It was the sort of soft goal which must have left McIlroy tearing out what little hair he has left.

Maik Taylor came for Stig Tofting's throw-in, but failed to arrive and Murdock headed the ball across his area for Rommedahl, who also scored in the 1-1 draw in Belfast, to nod home into the unguarded net.

For the third time in eight qualifiers Northern Ireland had gifted the opposition a goal inside the first 11 minutes.

Denmark boss Morten Olsen
Denmark boss Morten Olsen reacts to NI's goal

The Irish tried to respond and Thomas Sorensen had to be replaced by Peter Kjaer after the Sunderland goalkeeper injured his face in a collision with Murdock.

Rommedahl was beginning to cut loose down the left and he beat Murdock before winning a corner off Peter Kennedy.

Tofting swung it over and after some head tennis, Gronkjaer, who was being watched by his Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri, curled a shot-cum-cross wide of Taylor's right-hand post.

Northern Ireland slowly recovered from Rommedahl's goal and began to enjoy some possession.

However they were making little impression on the Danish backline as Healy patrolled his lonely beat up front.

Murdock, who was one of seven Irish players walking a disciplinary tightrope, collected his second caution of the campaign for a foul on Ebbe Sand.

The Preston centre-half will now miss Wednesday's clash with Iceland in Belfast.

NI fortunate

Murdock nearly compounded his woe by scoring an own goal after 28 minutes.

Gronkjaer crossed from the left and Murdock directed his centre against a post and Rommedahl then shot wide of the target from the rebound.

Northern Ireland were fortunate not to concede a penalty before half-time when Gronkjaer had his legs taken from underneath him.

Jon Dahl Tomasson then sliced through the Irish defence and rounded Taylor, but the ex-Newcastle striker overhit the ball and it ran out of play.

Northern Ireland briefly raised the hopes of their small band of travelling fans with a sweeping attack.

Denmark's Dennis Rommendahl
Denmark goalscorer Dennis Rommendahl

Healy pulled the ball back for Michael Hughes, who cut inside, before teeing up Keith Gillespie whose shot was deflected wide for a corner.

This was easily Northern Ireland's best period of the match and Mulryne backheeled a return to Hughes whose shot was blocked when a pass to the unmarked Gillespie would have been a better option.

Back came Denmark and a Tomasson shot was deflected off Aaron Hughes' boot for a corner before Rommedahl flashed a drive across the face of Taylor's goal.

Gronkjaer was skinning Danny Griffin every time and from one explosive burst, he cut inside from his left wing before unleashing a shot which was saved by Taylor.

McIlroy was furious when Laursen escaped a booking after chopping down Gillespie in full flight.

However, Gillespie answered the Danes in the best possible way by delivering the perfect right-wing cross for Mulryne to nod home in the 73rd minute.

Mulryne started the move by dispossessing a Danish defender before laying the ball off to in-form Gillespie.

Denmark: 1-Thomas Sorensen (16-Peter Kjaer 12); 2-Stig Toefting, 3-Rene Henriksen, 4-Martin Laursen, 5-Jan Heintze, 6-Thomas Helveg, 7-Peter Nielsen (14-Per Frandsen 69), 8-Jesper Groenkjaer, 9-Jon Dahl Tomasson (18-Marc Nygaard 78), 10-Dennis Rommedahl, 11-Ebbe Sand

Northern Ireland: 1-Maik Taylor, 2-Danny Griffin, 3-Peter Kennedy, 4-Aaron Hughes, 5-Colin Murdock, 6-Jim Magilton, 7-Keith Gillespie, 8-Philip Mulryne, 9-David Healy, 10-Kevin Horlock, 11-Michael Hughes (18-Stuart Elliot 71).

Referee: Ryszard Wojcik (Poland)

See also:

01 Sep 01 |  World Cup 2002
Clockwatch: Denmark 1-1 Northern Ireland
06 Jun 01 |  World Cup 2002
Late goals deny Northern Ireland
02 Jun 01 |  World Cup 2002
Northern Ireland beaten again
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