Football: Mulryne bowls over bewildered Belgium

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The Independent Online
Northern Ireland 3 Belgium 0

Philip Mulryne, the Manchester United teenager, capped a splendid night for Northern Ireland by scoring two minutes from time on his first appearance in a comfortable victory over Belgium in a friendly at Windsor Park last night.

The 18-year-old Mulryne entered the game at half-time, replacing Gerard McMahon, and he gave notice of his intentions early on. On 63 minutes, he collected a through ball from the midfielder Neil Lennon and rushed into the box, where he was brought down by Dirk Medved. The Scottish referee, John Rowbotham, pointed to the spot and Jim Magilton, the Southampton midfielder, converted the penalty.

Northern Ireland had taken the lead after only 13 minutes and, like Mulryne's late effort, it was a stunning goal. Jimmy Quinn, playing his first full international at Windsor Park, picked the ball up 35 yards out and, after brushing aside the challenge of a Belgian defender, lashed in a shot from all of 25 yards into the top corner.

After that electric effort, the visitors controlled the game for long periods but were unable to break down a resolute home defence. Whenever they did manage to get a shot on goal, notably Albert De Roover's free-kick after 40 minutes, Tommy Wright, captain for the game, produced a wonderful diving save, one of many on the night.

After the break, the Belgians made a concerted effort to score, but, just when they looked likely to find an equaliser, Mulryne broke clear, only to be brought down for the spot-kick, which gave the home team a 2-0 cushion.

In the 88th minute, his debut was complete when he climbed high above the Belgian defence to head powerfully home a fine cross from Keith Gillespie.

Three minutes earlier, history was made when the Manchester City teenager Jeff Whitley came on as a substitute and in doing do became the first black player to compete at a senior level for Northern Ireland.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Wright (Nottingham Forest); Taggart (Bolton), Morrow (Arsenal), Magilton (Southampton), Hunter (Reading), Lomas (Manchester City), Gillespie (Newcastle), Lennon (Leicester), Quinn (Blackpool), McMahon (Stoke), Horlock (Manchester City). Substitutes: Mulryne (Manchester Utd) for McMahon, h-t; Griffin (St Johnstone) for Hunter, h-t; O'Boyle (St Johnstone) for Quinn, 59; Worthington (Stoke) for Lennon, 69; Whitley (Manchester City) for Horlock, 85.

BELGIUM: De Wilde (Sporting Lisbon); Medved (Club Bruges), De Roover (Lierse), Staelens (Club Bruges), Albert (Newcastle), Van der Elst (Club Bruges), Verheyen (Club Bruges), Wilmots (Schalke 04), Nilis (PSV Eindhoven), Scifo (Monaco), Van Kerckhoven (Lierse). Substitutes: L M'Penza (Mouscron) for Nilis, h-t; Pierre (RWD Molenbeek) for Verheyen, 71; Lemoine (Mouscron) for Scifo,77; Jbari (Ghent) for Wilmots, 81; Schepens (Standard Liege) for Van Kerckhoven, 86.

Referee: J Rowbotham (Scotland).

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