Northern Ireland 3 Spain 2: Healy plays the hero again with hat-trick to stun Spain

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The Independent Football

A year on from scoring the goal that beat England, David Healy was again Northern Ireland's hero last night as they recorded arguably an even more surprising win. The striker scored a hat-trick, the first by a Northern Ireland player for 15 years, to help his team to come from behind to record a famous victory.

Spain twice took the lead, with goals from Xavi Hernandez and David Villa, but each time Healy restored parity before he struck the winner in the 80th minute, collecting a long goal-kick and lobbing the Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

After defeat by Iceland on Saturday, it was a superb response from Lawrie Sanchez's side, and captain Aaron Hughes said: "We answered a few things that were asked of us and hopefully shut a few people up."

Xavi scored the first goal in the 13th minute with a volley off a cross from Antonio Lopez, just after the Northern Ireland goalkeeper Maik Taylor had come on for the injured Roy Carroll.

Healy put Northern Ireland level six minutes later, flicking the ball past Casillas with his right foot. Villa's shot made it 2-1 to the visitors in the 51st minute, but Healy scored his second in the 64th, cracking Steve Clingan's free-kick into the near corner from 15 yards.

Northern Ireland (4-4-2): Carroll (Taylor, 12); Duff, Craigan, Hughes, Evans; Baird, Gillespie, Clingan, Davis; Healy (Feeney, 85), Lafferty (Quinn, 54).

Spain (4-4-2): Casillas; Ramos (Salgado, 46), Puyol, Ibanez, Lopez, Albelda (Fabregas, 29), Xavi, Alonso; Villa, Torres (Luis Garcia, 64), Raul.

Referee: F De Bleeckere (Belgium).

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