06/09/2006 Belfast Spain 3-2 David Healy (3)
Roy Carroll (Maik Taylor), Michael Duff, Aaron Hughes, Stephen Craigan, Jonathan Evans, Keith Gillespie, Sammy Clingan, Steven Davis, Chris Baird, David Healy (Warren Feeney), Kyle Lafferty (James Quinn)
MAGNIFICO! MAGNIFICO! MAGNIFICO!
NORTHERN Ireland produce a legendary performance to come from behind twice to defeat Spain at Windsor Park ….. and David Healy knocks home a hat-trick!
CONVENTIONAL wisdom tells us lightning never strikes twice in the same place.
Tonight Lawrie Sanchez proved otherwise. Tonight David Healy proved otherwise. Tonight Northern Ireland proved otherwise.
Almost a year to the day since *that* victory over England little Northern Ireland once more showed the world what they could do.
This time Spain were the victims.
Following the despair of Saturday’s dismal performance against Iceland few people gave Northern Ireland any chance of a result against the Galactico’s.
Write our wee country off at your peril.
Indeed, it could be argued, that this result – this victory – is a greater achievement than that of twelve months ago.
Twice we fell behind. Twice we equalised …… and then came that 80th minute winner!
David Healy – already with two goals under his belt – got on the end of a long Maik Taylor punt to deliver a world class lob over Iker Casillas. Route One stuff it may have been – a move straight out of the Wimbledon handbook – but who cared?
It was no less than Northern Ireland deserved.
Spain had opened the scoring on 14 minutes when Barcelona’s Xavi Alonso made the most of some poor defending to volley past Maik Taylor.
On Saturday Northern Ireland crumbled after Iceland’s first goal. This wasn’t Saturday.
Within six minutes we were back on level terms. Healy displayed true poacher qualities to nip in undetected when Alonso nodded a truly awful ball back to his keeper.
However Spain regained the advantage seven minutes into the second half after David Villa slotted home from a Cesc Fabregas through ball.
Surely that was that. Teams like Spain don’t surrender a lead twice in one game.
And it was that man Healy again. Nottingham Forest’s Sammy Clingan teed up a free-kick – conceded by Antonio Lopez for a foul on Keith Gillespie just outside the right side of the area – sending it low along the surface for ‘Sir David’ to unleash a terrific shot into the corner.
The pendulum very nearly swung back in favour of the visitors just nine minutes later when a Raul effort came back off an upright.
That would have been harsh, cruel, heartbreaking.
Six minutes later no-one cared.
“We’re not Brazil, we’re Northern Ireland but it’s all the same to me. 3-2!”
Author: Martin Harris
David Healy was on fire scoring for fun at international level, smashing the Northern Ireland goal scoring record in the process. Having been embarrassed 3-0 at home to Iceland on the Saturday prior to this game the media gave Northern Ireland no chance at getting anything out of this game. Lawrie Sanchez had threatened to quit the team (which wasn’t public knowledge until after the Spanish game) but he wanted a final two fingered saulte to the media as he left the building. David Healy provided that for Lawrie Sanchez (although he stayed in his position) and gave the Northern Irish fans another night they would never forget. It must not be forgotten that Spain went on to lift the European Championships that season and subsequently the World Cup a few years later. Even to this day Northern Ireland are still only one of four/five sides to have beaten the Spanish since that wonderful September night when Raul, Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta, Villa and co were put to the sword.
“We showed our character more than anything tonight and that should be a lesson for everybody. We wanted to put a bit of pride back in the Northern Ireland jersey.”
“Looking back now beating that Spain side seems an even better result than it did seven years ago. So many of the Spanish players against us at Windsor Park went on to dominate world football winning European Championships and the World Cup.”
“We entered that match on the back of a 3-0 loss at home to Iceland. Lawrie Sanchez and the players had been slaughtered in the run up to the game by the media yet we showed real character against Spain because we went behind twice and came back not only to draw level, but to beat them 3-2.”
“I hit a hat-trick and the final goal in front of the Kop was incredible for me, lobbing Iker Casillas from long range. It was a brilliant feeling.”