07/09/2005 Belfast England 1-0 David Healy
Maik Taylor, Chris Baird, Tony Capaldi, Aaron Hughes, Stephen Craigan, Steven Davis, Keith Gillespie, Damien Johnson, David Healy (Ivan Sproule), James Quinn (Warren Feeney), Stuart Elliott (Michael Duff)
Oh dear! England had suffered some dreadful results in recent years, and some equally bad performances in scraping wins against footballing minnows, but this was surely the nadir of the Eriksson reign. Not only did England lose to a side ranked over 100 places below them in the FIFA rankings, but they couldn’t even claim they were unlucky. Northern Ireland deserved the win, and England were utterly abject. Admittedly, England had 70% of the possession, but then Germany had 61% of the possession when they lost 5-1 to England, so that means nothing.
The England squad – and manager – had been talking positively about how they had taken recent criticism to heart, and they would hit back in this game. However, they never came close. Rooney was playing wide on the left, which suited nobody, least of all the man himself, who was once again at his petulant worst, seemingly falling out with his own teammates on occasion, and picking up a booking which meant missing the next qualifier. He was lucky not to be sent off as he raised his arm in a challenge with Gillespie.
Beckham hit the woodwork with a free kick after 27 minutes, whilst Taylor pulled off a brilliant save from Lampard. However, the Irish game plan was working very well, and they came close after 71 minutes. A cross from Healy was deflected, and Robinson had to scramble to prevent Quinn from getting on the end of it. Two minutes later, Davis had plenty of time to pick out a pass to Healy, who unleashed a powerful shot across Robinson and into the far corner. An ecstatic Windsor Park watched as England struggled badly to respond, and indeed Feeney nearly added a second in injury time. England’s previous 18 matches against Northern Ireland had resulted in 14 wins and four draws, with a goals aggregate of 37-4. That all ended here, as they lost in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1927 – an unbelievable run that highlighted just how much of a shock result this was.
By Martin Harris
8th September 2005
NORTHERN IRELAND sent shockwaves reverberating around the footballing world with this defeat of a star-studded England team in front of 14,000 passionate Windsor Park fans.
It is a night that will go down in football folklore, the night the mighty England visited south Belfast only to return bowed and humbled.
Pinch yourself, it really did happen.
The euphoria of the result aside, the three points gained have guaranteed fourth spot in Group Six for Northern Ireland with third a distinct possibility going into the final two games of the series.
Going into the game few gave Northern Ireland much hope of even grabbing a point let alone all three and for the opening half-an-hour or so it seemed those predicitions were to be realised.
England lived up to their pre-game billing in the early stages with Michael Owen almost firing them into the lead with a 16th minute effort which took a deflection off Stephen Craigan.
And on 28 minutes when David Beckham stepped up to take a free-kick many feared the worst. His perfectly weighted attempt floated over the wall – apparently goalbound – only for it to rattle Maik Taylor’s left post.
A turning point?
Possibly, because within minutes David Healy threatened with a half-volley followed by a Keith Gillespie effort from distance.
Neither effort beat Paul Robinson but they provided the fanatical home crowd with a little glimpse of the glory that lay in wait.
However, right on the stroke of half-time, the pendulum amongst swung back in England’s favour when Stephen Gerrard skipped down the wing to send over a cross for Owen to attempt a spectacular over-head kick which, had it gone in, would have been a goal to savour.
It didn’t and Northern Ireland lived on.
After the break Owen glanced a header wide while Frank Lampard had a long-range drive tipped round the post moments after a Joe Cole ball which drifted – untouched – across the face of goal.
Northern Ireland had their chances too.
A Gillespie free-kick drifted just wide, James Quinn fired into the side-netting from 30 yards while, on 71 minutes, Robinson had to dive at Quinn’s feet as he scrambled to meet a David Healy cross.
Then, on 74 minutes, came the goal. Steve Davis demonstrated a superb reading of the game to hold the ball back to allow Healy to return to an onside position following another run forward.
Assured his team-mate was back in play he then floated over a sublime ball out to the edge of the area which the Leeds United frontman collected, brought forward and, displaying immense composure, duly rattled past Robinson into the opposite corner of the goal.
Windsor Park erupted. Was the impossible dream about to be realised?
Could the players hold out for another 15 minutes or so?
We all now know they did and, indeed, looked likely – on occasion – to add to their tally.
Stephen Craigan headed just past on 80 minutes, Davis knocked the ball on for Healy on 87 while substitute Warren Feeney was inches away just moments from the whistle.
A truly memorable evening, a truly remarkable result. Pinch yourself again.
Northern Ireland: Taylor, Baird, Capaldi, Hughes, Craigan, Davis, Gillespie, Johnson, Healy, Quinn, Elliott subs Ingham (not used), Robinson (not used), Jones (not used), Feeney (Quinn 79), Sproule (Healy 88), Duff (Elliott 90), Brunt (not used)
England came to Windsor Park with thier Premiership superstars including household names such as Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen etc. The media (especially Stephen Nolan and Alan Green) had this one as an easy victory for England. After England’s 4-0 victory over Northern Ireland at Old Trafford earlier in the year there were calls to have a pre-qualifying group for the minnows of European football which included Northern Ireland, to have the right to face the bigger nations in the proper qualifying. Also the Northern Ireland fans were not going to let the English forget who were the reigning British Champions as both England and Scotland felt Northern Ireland and Wales weren’t good enough to face them anymore in the early 1980s. David Healy’s goal not only gave Northern Ireland their first victory over England since 1972 but their first victory over England at home since 1927!
David Healy (Goal Scorer) –
“Months before we played England in Belfast, we played them at Old Trafford. We were drawing 0-0 there at half-time and in the dressing room there was a feeling that we could do something special.”
“They ended up beating us 4-0! Our fans kept singing away which was brilliant even though the English fans were taunting them, chanting ‘Are you Scotland in disguise?’ At Windsor it was also 0-0 at half-time and in the dressing room there was a real determination not to let the same thing happen again.”
“The team were outstanding as was the atmosphere and I was lucky enough to score the winner in what turned into the most magical night of my career. I would think most of the boys who played would say that.”
“To this day people still talk to me about ‘that goal’. I guess it catapulted me to a status among Northern Ireland fans that I’d always hoped to achieve, but more important was the victory and how happy it made everyone in Northern Ireland feel.”
Lawrie Sanchez (Manager) –
I said to them it was about belief to win – when they went out one or two did not believe but by half-time 11 believed it. We were magnificent in the second half and the best team won.”
“This has got to top it – for a small nation in world footballing terms to beat a team of the calibre of England, and their best team. That is David Healy’s 11th goal in 17 internationals for me. He has quality and is Premiership class.
“The fans were also magnificent and we played with an extra man – they raised the team, they believed in the team and the team gave it back in bundles.”
“This is our moment of glory while it is a blip for England.”
Aaron Hughes (Captain) –
“I can’t really sum up in words what this victory means to everyone. Right from the the start we set about England and showed we meant business and came away with an incredible win. We knew what we had to do to beat England and showed that belief can sometimes bridge a gap in talent.”
07/09/20014 Budapest Hungary 2-1 Niall McGinn, Kyle Lafferty
Roy Carroll, Conor McLaughlin, Gareth McAuley (Craig Cathcart), Aaron Hughes, Chris Brunt, Chris Baird, Corry Evans, Steven Davis, Oliver Norwood (Billy McKay), Jamie Ward (Niall McGinn), Kyle Lafferty
This win in Hungary was Northern Ireland’s first competitive away victory since September 2010, ending a run of nine games without a win.
It was also the first time they have scored in five away internationals.
Michael O’Neill –
“He [Kyle Lafferty] will benefit from this. He has not had a great year and has played little football. But I had a couple of conversations with him and they were very positive. Sometimes you need a bit of individual play to get you back into matches and that is what happened. Kyle did brilliantly and Niall [McGinn] was on hand to finish it off. From there the belief grew and we got a break when they went down to 10 men because their centre back was injured. We played very well and worked the second goal well. We would have been happy with a point so we are delighted with the three, but now we have to build on that.”
“We have to maximise these three points by taking three against the Faroes in our next match. After the Faroes we have two very difficult away games but we have to aim to be going into those with six points. We need a big campaign from Kyle now. He’s started great and we need him to stay fit and keep producing.”