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Statistical breakdown of UCL semis

Five Aside
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By ESPN Staff

Northern Irish FA back Sanchez 'no show'

Lawrie Sanchez had 'personal reasons' for his no-show before the media after Northern Ireland's stunning 3-2 win over Spain at Windsor Park according to his Irish Football Association chiefs.

David Healy's hat-trick secured a remarkable Group F Euro 2008 qualifiying triumph and was the perfect response to the critics who rounded on Sanchez after a 3-0 defeat to Iceland last weekend.

Sanchez refused to conduct a post-match press conference last night but IFA chief executive Howard Wells leapt to his defence this morning and revealed a statement is planned for later today, sparking speculation that the Englishman's contract may be extended.

Asked why Sanchez refused to speak to the press last night, Wells told BBC Radio 5 Live: 'There were personal reasons.

'It's been a very pressurised week for Lawrie. Last night he rose to the occasion and showed tremendous leadership. After the match he felt he had done his bit and I respect that. Let's focus on the things that went right.

'Lawrie has done an outstanding job for us. He is contracted with us until the end of the campaign (Euro 2008) and is not under pressure from the IFA.'