Germans' spot of bother

Northern Ireland 1 Germany 1
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The Independent Online
George O'Boyle gave Germany, among the European Championship favourites, a surprise in last night's friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast.

O'Boyle's career has taken him from Linfield in Ulster to Bordeaux in France before he settled in Scotland first with Dunfermline and now at St Johnstone. He scored 22 goals this season for the First Division club and he again showed a striker's instinct against class opposition.

He replaced the ineffective Keith Gillespie in the 66th minute and opened the scoring 13 minutes later. Michael Hughes swung in the corner and O'Boyle reacted quickly to steer the ball past Oliver Kahn.

It took Germany just 60 seconds to get the equaliser, with Mehmet Scholl firing home a sweet right-foot shot after Andreas Moller had set up the opening. Yet it was the Irish who could have secured a famous victory when Iain Dowie fired in a fierce shot from the edge of the area, only for keeper Kahn to make a superb save.

Germany incredibly missed two penalties in the first half - but the Irish came out of the match with more credit than their illustrious visitors, who have spent a week in Northern Ireland as part of their build up to Euro 96, which begins in under two weeks.

Jurgen Klinsmann let the Irish off the hook after four minutes when he directed a penalty wide of the post after being tripped by Steve Lomas. Then 29 minutes later the Irish conceded another spot-kick when skipper Nigel Worthington pul- led back Scholl after Klinsmann had released him. This time Moller sent his effort high into the crowd and the jeers from the crowd rang around this famous old stadium.

The Irish, who had lost their previous two friendlies at home to Sweden and Norway, raised their game to go into their World Cup qualifiers - which begin in August - in good heart.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Fettis (Nottingham Forest); Griffin (St Johnstone), Worthington (Leeds), Hill (Leicester), Hunter (Wrexham), Gillespie (Newcastle), Lomas (Manchester City), Magilton (Southampton), McMahon (Tottenham), Hughes (West Ham), Dowie (West Ham). Substitutes: Rowland (West Ham) for Worthington, h-t; O'Boyle (St Johnstone) for Gillespie, h-t.

GERMANY: Kahn (Bayern Munich); Helmer (Bayern Munich), Kohler (Borussia Dortmund), Basler (Werder Bremen), Eilts (Werder Bremen), Moller (Borussia Dortmund), Scholl (Bayern Munich), Strunz (Bayern Munich), Ziege (Bayern Munich), Bierhoff (Udinese), Klinsmann (Bayern Munich). Substitutes: Bode (Werder Bremen) for Ziege, h-t; Bobic (VfB Stuttgart) for Bie- rhoff, h-t; Kuntz (Besiktas) for Klinsmann, h-t.

Referee: W Young (Scotland).