21/12/1988 Seville Spain 0-4
Alan McKnight, Anton Rogan, Nigel Worthington, Alan McDonald, John McClelland, Mal Donaghy (Michael O’Neill), David McCreery (Jimmy Quinn), Steve Penney, Colin Clarke, Kevin Wilson, Kingsley Black
There was a big gulf in quality between the two sides and the scoreline reflected this. Billy Bingham had set Northern Ireland up in a 4-5-1 formation with Colin Clarke the lone striker.
Robert, Vazquez and Michel passed in short triangles as the 4-5-1 became more like a 9-0-1 as the Northern Ireland team didn’t pass their 22 metre line. Spain at this point began playing in an aggressive 2-5-3 formation.
Northern Ireland held on until the 30th minute when disaster struck. A pass into the box by Butragueño was accidentally knocked past goalkeeper Allen McKnight who was going towards the ball when his Celtic and international team mate Anton Rogan stuck out a leg perhaps trying to pass back to the goalkeeper and the ball ended up heading in the opposite direction into the net.
The second Spanish goal came from a corner kick on 55 minutes when Butragueño scored. A wild shot by Górriz which was going wide until it hit Alan McDonald in the lower abdomen and fell at the feet of Butragueño to score.
A penalty conceeded by John McClelland in the 62nd minute allowed Michel to make the score 3-0 to Spain.
A few minutes later on 65 minutes Northern Ireland’s miserable night got even worse as Alan McDonald scored the second own goal of the game. A long range shot by Robert towards goal deflected off the Northern Irish defender and past McKnight into the net.
* Trivia –
The Spanish crowd who were frantically waving their Spanish flags throughout the match, began singing the Christmas carol ‘La Marimorena‘ when Spain went 4-0 up! “ande, ande, ande, la marimorena, ande, ande, ande, que es la Nochebuena” sang the crowd.