Northern Ireland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
NORTHERN IRELAND recovered some pride as they survived a potentially tricky World Cup Group Three qualifier in Vilnius last night.
Their hopes of reaching next year's finals had all but disappeared after defeats by Spain and the Republic of Ireland, but the Northern Irish clung on to the lead given them by Iain Dowie's ninth-minute goal as the Lithuanians applied pressure in the second half on a greasy, rain-soaked pitch.
Dowie, the Southampton striker, gave the Irish a flying start with his second international goal, a 10-yard volley after a shot from the Strasbourg winger, Michael Hughes, had come back off a defender. But they were pinned down throughout the second half as the Newcastle goalkeeper Tommy Wright came to the rescue with three superb saves.
The Irish could have wrapped up the game in the 74th minute when Michael O'Neill cut the ball back across goal, but Hughes shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
LITHUANIA: Martinkenas; Ziukas, Baltusnikas, Mazeikis (Dicka, 70), Buzmakovas, Olsanskis (Slekys, 45), Baranauskas, Sukristovas, Kirilovas, Fridrikas, Zdanchis.
NORTHERN IRELAND: Wright (Newcastle United); Fleming (Barnsley), Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday), Taggart (Barnsley), McDonald (QPR), Donaghy (Chelsea), Magilton (Oxford United), O'Neill (Dundee United), Dowie (Southampton), Wilson (Notts County), Hughes (Strasbourg).
Referee: F Palsi (Finland).