Poland too good despite riposte from Lomas

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Steve Lomas scored on his Northern Ireland return after 16 months out through injury, but it was not enough to prevent Sammy McIlroy's men crashing to defeat last night.

Lomas's 18th-minute header reduced the arrears to 2-1 in the Tsirion stadium after Pawel Kryszalowicz and Radoslaw Kaluzny had scored in the opening 11 minutes. The Poles sealed the win with second-half goals from Kryszalowicz and Marcin Zewlakow.

Both sides made a number of substitutions at half-time, with Northern Ireland bringing on Neil Lennon for Philip Mulryne and George McCartney for Danny Griffin. Further substitutions were made on the hour mark with the Irish taking off David Healy – who had had no service all night – and bringing on Stuart Elliott.

Elliott should have scored within three minutes of coming on when Michael Hughes set him up inside the area, only for the Motherwell striker to shoot straight at Radoslaw Majdan.

That miss looked even more costly when Poland scored their third goal after 67 minutes. Marcin Zewlakow's shot was well saved but Kryszalowicz knocked home the rebound. Two minutes later, Jacek Krzynowek sent over a low cross from the left for Marcin Zewlakow, a half-time substitute, to find the net with a first-time shot.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Taylor (Fulham); Kennedy (Wigan), Griffin (Dundee United), Aaron Hughes (Newcastle), Lomas (West Ham), Johnson (Blackburn), Mulryne (Norwich), Magilton (Ipswich), Gillespie (Blackburn), Michael Hughes (Wimbledon), Healy (Preston). Substitutes: Lennon (Celtic) for Mulryne, h-t; McCartney (Sunderland) for Griffin, h-t; Elliott (Motherwell) for Healy, 60; McVeigh (Norwich) for Johnson, 60.

POLAND: Majdan (Iznir); Krzynowek (Nuremberg), J Bak (Lens), Michal Zewlakow (Mouscron), Waldoch (Schalke 04), Kozminski (Brescia), Swierczewski (Marseilles), Iwan (Austria Vienna), Kryszalowicz (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kaluzny (Energie Cottbus), Olisadebe (Panathinaikos). Substitutes: Marcin Zewlakow (Mouscron) for Kaluzny, h-t; A Bak (Birmingham City) for Swierczewski, h-t; Zdebel (Genclerbirligi Ankara) for Iwan, h-t; Smolarek (Feyenoord) for Olisadebe, h-t; Rzasa (Feyenoord) for Michal Zewlakow, 60; Zielinski (Legia Warsaw) for Kryszalowicz, 81; Bledzewski (Gornik Zabrze) for Majdan, 89.

Referee: T Papaioannou (Cyprus).