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''A win is a win''
Jackie Fullerton reports
 real 56k

Sunday, 7 October, 2001, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Healy makes Malta pay penalty
Maik Taylor
Maik Taylor in form for Northern Ireland in Malta
Malta 0-1 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland won their first competitive away game for six years by beating Malta on Saturday evening.

It was David Healy 56th minute penalty which separated the sides in the heat of Valetta.

In a bizarre situation in the second half both Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy and his assistant Jim Harvey were dismissed from the touchline by Austrian referee Manfred Schuttengruber.

However, it did not stop Northern Ireland from ending their World Cup campaign on a high note.

Dominated

The last time Northern Ireland achieved an away victory in a competitive fixture was against Liechtenstein in a European Championships qualifying game in 1995.

It was eight years since they last posted a victory in a World Cup game away from their Windsor Park base in Belfast.

Northern Ireland had plenty of chances to put the game out of the reach of the home side, but they missed some great chances.

As expected McIlroy's boys dominated the early possession, and despite missing an entire team through injury, they knocked the ball about with great swagger.

Skipper Jim Magilton, who was winning his 50th cap, pulled the strings as ever in midfield.

Northern Ireland fashioned the first half-chance after eight minutes when Malta failed to deal with Colin Murdock's nod down from Damien Johnson's corner and Stuart Elliott hit a shot which was blocked.


Healy tucked away second-half penalty

Only a few hundred Maltese fans had bothered to turn out for this largely meaningless game and they were being outsung by Northern Ireland's noisy travelling support.

Those fans nearly had a goal to celebrate after 15 minutes.

Gilbert Agius fouled Michael Hughes just under 35 yards from goal, and Kevin Horlock drove the free-kick just over Mario Muscat's bar.

That was the closest Northern Ireland, who finished fifth in Group Three with 11 points, came to a goal in the first quarter of the match - although David Healy did fire over from a Danny Griffin right-wing cross.

Instead it was Maik Taylor who was made to work for his money, and two exceptional saves kept the scoreline blank.

His agility in the 32nd minute particularly stood out.

Chetcuti found Agius with a good ball and the Malta winger forced a first-class stop from Taylor who dived to his left to palm the ball away.

Northern Ireland had most of the play, but failed to takes their chances as the teams turned around all-sqaure at the break.

Dismissed

On the restart a Michael Hughes drive from a free-kick saw George McCartney skilfully flick it goalwards to force a great save from Muscat.

In the 54th minute, Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy was dismissed from the dug-out after throwing the ball back towards the pitch and hitting a Malta player.

< But on his way to the stand he missed his side take a 56th minute lead when Healy was tripped by Chetcuti as he bore down on goal.

Healy then dusted himself down and tucked away the penalty to give Northern Ireland the lead.

Sammy McIlroy
Manager McIlroy sees red in Valetta

Northern Ireland lost their second official from the bench when McIlroy's assistant Jim Harvey was red-carded for arguing with the fourth official.

Damien Johnston, who had a tremendous game, went close to his first international goal but shot wide of the far post after a superb run down the right wing.

In a final nervous few minutes, Northern Ireland had two escapes.

First Nwoko's shot deflected wide and then Taylor made another exceptional save from a Suda snapshot in injury time.

Malta: Muscat, Theuma, Chetcuti, Spiteri, Debono, Said, Agius, Carabott, Misfud, Nwoko, Zahra. Subs: Darmanin, Ciantar, Dimech, Camilleri, Licari, Mallia, Suda.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, Kennedy, McCartney, Murdock, Griffin, Elliott, Magilton, Horlock, Johnson, Michael Hughes, Healy. Subs: Carroll, McGibbon, James Quinn, Kirk, Toner, McCann, Morrison. Referee: Manfred Schuttengruber (Austria)

See also:

06 Oct 01 |  World Cup 2002
Clockwatch: Malta 0-1 Northern Ireland
Other top World Cup 2002 stories:

Links to more World Cup 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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