Lawrie Sanchez believes Northern Ireland will bounce back against Spain on Wednesday - because his side are big-game performers - but admits to being perplexed at how his players fall apart against modest nations. That was the case at Windsor Park yesterday against Iceland in their Euro 2008 qualifier.
With victory last season against England in mind, Sanchez said: "We will be okay because it is a game we are not expected to get anything from. We need a performance level which shows what the players can do. The problem is to win games you are capable of winning. We have raised expectations but we have to live with that."
Iceland, according to Sanchez, were a case in point. Sitting 34 places below the province in the Fifa's world rankings, there was cautious optimism in the Northern Ireland camp before the match. However, they were undone by dreadful defending. Iceland raced in a 3-0 lead in the first half through Gunnar Thorvaldsson, Hermann Hreidarsson and the irrespressible Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Northern Ireland (4-4-2): Taylor (Birmingham City); Baird (Watford), Capaldi (Plymouth Argyle), A Hughes (Aston Villa), Craigan (Motherwell); Clingan (Nottingham Forest), Gillespie (Sheffield United), Elliott (Hull City), Davis (Aston Villa); Healy (Leeds United), Quinn (Northampton Town). Substitutes used: Lafferty (Darlington) for Elliott, 63; Duff (Burnley) for Capaldi, 76; Feeney (Luton Town) for Quinn, 83.
Iceland (4-4-2): Arason (Manchester City); Steinsson (AZ Alkmaar), I Sigurdsson (Lillestrom), Ingimarsson (Reading), Hreidarsson (Charlton Athletic); B Gunnarsson (Reading), Arnason (Manchester City), J Gudjonsson (AZ Alkmaar), Gudjohnsen (Barcelona); H Sigurdsson (Brondby), Thorvaldsson (IBV Vestmann). Substitutes used: Gislason (Lyn Oslo) for B Gunnarsson, 75; H Jonsson (IFK Gothenburg) for Sigurdsson, 64; Danielsson (Fylkir) for Arnason, 55.
Referee: T Skjerven (Norway).
Booked: N Ireland: Healy; Iceland: I Sigurdsson
Man of the Match: GudjohnsenReuse content