21/05/1988 Belfast Malta 3-0 Jimmy Quinn, Steve Penney, Colin Clarke
Allen McKnight, Mal Donaghy, Nigel Worthington, Alan McDonald, John McClelland, Danny Wilson, Steve Penney (Bernard McNally), Michael O’Neill, Colin Clarke, Jimmy Quinn, Robbie Dennison (Kingsley Black)
The opening Italia ’90 World Cup Qualifying match got off to the best of starts for Northern Ireland as three first half goals brushed Malta aside. Northern Ireland went into this match in poor form, having won just one game in the previous thirteen.
Jimmy Quinn opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a low 30 yard shot into the lower right hand corner of the goal, which the Maltese goalkeeper David Cluett should really have done better with as he failed to react quickly enough.
Steve Penney scored in the 23rd minute when his 17 yard shot took a deflection and the ball ended up high into the right hand corner of the net.
Only two minutes later Robbie Dennison dribbles the ball from the half way line and thread a pass through to Jimmy Quinn on the left of the penalty area. Jimmy managed to cross the ball low to Colin Clarke who was on the six yard line and subsequently had only a tap in, to score Northern Ireland’s third goal.
Michael O’Neill had an A-Level Maths exam scheduled for the day of the match. He did not sit the exam but later completed it at Queens (Open University) the day prior to Northern Ireland’s match against the Republic of Ireland in September.