Liechtenstein . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
NORTHERN IRELAND launched the 1996 European Championship qualifying campaign with a comfortable win over the amateurs of Liechtenstein at Windsor Park last night. However, they will know that far harder challenges lie ahead on the road to the finals in England.
The players from the tiny Alpine principality, which has only seven football clubs, were outclassed in what was their first competitive international. After scoring a good goal eight minutes from time, though, they were celebrating and accepting the crowd's applause at the end, while the men in green walked off quietly.
Having seen his side secure a four-goal lead soon after half- time, Bryan Hamilton, Northern Ireland's new manager, cannot have expected that the only further strike would come at the other end. 'I was very, very disappointed to lose that late goal,' he said.
Hamilton had suggested that the first goal might be the hardest to secure, but he only had to wait four minutes to calm his nerves. Jim Magilton put a free-kick on to the head of Iain Dowie, who set up Jimmy Quinn to thump the ball home from eight yards.
In front of a subdued crowd it took the Irish 20 minutes to increase their lead. Another Magilton free-kick looped off the defensive wall for Kevin Wilson to head against the bar, and Steve Lomas hooked in the rebound for his first goal for his country.
The busy and creative Wilson set up the third for Quinn and was also involved in the next and last home goal, in the 48th minute, when he lifted the ball over the harrassed visiting defenders for Dowie to beat Martin Oehry with a cool lob.
Northern Ireland seemed to run out of ideas as a flurry of substitutions disrupted the game. One of the replacements, the 19-year-old Daniel Hasler, met a free-kick from Wolfgang Ospelt with a splendid first-time shot from close range to give Liechtenstein their unexpected bonus.
NORTHERN IRELAND (4-4-2): Wright (Nottingham Forest); Fleming (Barnsley), Taggart (Barnsley), Donaghy (Chelsea), Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday); Wilson (Notts County), Lomas (Manchester City), Magilton (Southampton), Hughes (Strasbourg); Quinn (Reading), Dowie (Southampton). Substitutes: Gray (Sunderland) for Dowie, 77; O'Neil (Hibernian) for Lomas, 80.
LIECHTENSTEIN (1-4-3-2): Oehry (Frastanz); Moser (Vaduz); Quaderer (Vaduz), Stocker (Balzers), C Frick (Balzers), Ospelt (Vaduz); Zech (Grenchen), Telser (Balzers), Ritter (Vaduz); M Frick (Balzers), Matt (Vaduz). Substitutes: Hasler (Vaduz) for Stocker, 69; Hanselman (Trisenberg) for Matt, 63.
Referee: R Luinge (Netherlands).Reuse content