Football: Clarke claims an Irish milestone

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The Independent Online
COLIN CLARKE broke Northern Ireland's scoring record with his 14th international goal in their 3-0 win over Albania in a World Cup Group Three match at Windsor Park last night, but his manager Billy Bingham was in anything but congratulatory mood, writes Richard Weekes.

Bingham was furious at the way his side lost their way and failed to capitalise on their three-goal first-half lead, provided by Clarke, Kevin Wilson and Jim Magilton.

'Some people may think we were trying to play defensively in the second half but that was not my instructions. I wanted us to keep the ball and make them chase the game, but we kept losing possession and playing the long ball.'

In a night of eight World Cup ties across Europe, Bulgaria caused the biggest tremors with a 2-0 defeat of France in Sofia. The Barcelona striker Hristo Stoichkov scored from the spot after 21 minutes and Krasimir Balakov added a second eight minutes later to maintain Bulgaria's 100 per cent record in Group Six.

Sweden moved into second place behind Bulgaria when they beat their neighbours, Finland, with a 76th-minute penalty by Klas Ingesson after striker Martin Dahlin had been up-ended.

While England fired blanks in Spain, their Group Two rivals Norway enjoyed their biggest win in 44 years at the expense of San Marino, winning 10-0 in Oslo, Gunnar Halle scoring a hat-trick. Norway's keeper, Erik Thorstvedt of Tottenham, barely got a kick, so he went up with his team-mates for a corner late in the game.

In a rematch of this summer's European Championship final, Germany overcame Denmark 2-1 in a friendly in Copenhagen, but their winner had a touch of fortune about it. Stefan Effenberg's 30-yard free-kick five minutes from time struck a post and then rebounded off goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel's back into the net.

And, in Eindhoven, Italy shrugged off two early goals by Ajax's Dennis Bergkamp to beat the Netherlands 3-2 in another friendly, Gianluca Vialli scoring the winner 13 minutes from time.