Football / World Cup: Plucky Latvia make the Irish work for win: Taggart secures the Baltic points

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The Independent Online
Latvia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Northern Ireland. . . . . . . . . .2

NORTHERN IRELAND succeeded where Denmark and Spain failed by earning two World Cup points in the Baltic republic of Latvia - but they were fortunate to win yesterday's Group Three game in Riga.

Oxford's Jim Magilton gave his side a fourth-minute lead, converting a cross by Gary Fleming, whose Barnsley colleague, Gerry Taggart, headed a second after 15 minutes, from a centre by the dangerous Michael Hughes.

Latvia dominated the second half, but their only reward was a goal 10 minutes after the break when Ainars Linards, of the Swedish club, Orebro, lobbed the ball over Tommy Wright.

LATVIA: Karavajevs (OFK Belgrade); Erglis (RAF Jelgava), Sevlakovs (Ilves Tampere), Ivanovs (RAF Jelgava), Gnedojs (Skonto Riga), Popkov (Kompar Riga) Sarando (RAF Jelgava), Astafjevs (Skonto Riga), Zeiberlins (RAF Jelgava), Linards (Orebro), Gorjacilos (Skonto Riga). Substitutes: Jelisejev (Skonto Riga) for Sarando, 45; Babicevs (Kompar Riga) for Zeiberlins, 63.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Wright (Newcastle); Fleming (Barnsley), McDonald (Queen's Park Rangers), Taggart (Barnsley), Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday), O'Neill (Dundee United), Magilton (Oxford), Donaghy (Chelsea), Wilson (Notts County), Hughes (Strasbourg), Dowie (Southampton). Substitute: Quinn (Reading) for O'Neill, 85.

Referee: P Werner (Poland).

In last night's other Group Three ties, two goals from Julen Guerrero earned Spain a 2-0 win in Lithuania; while Arsenal's John Jensen scored in Denmark's 4-0 victory over Albania.