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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 24, 2007

Sanchez hails hat-trick hero Healy

Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez lauded David Healy as a 'world class striker' after a stunning hat-trick against Liechtenstein in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

Healy got all three goals in the space of 30 second-half minutes as the province recorded a 4-1 victory in the principality.

It took the Leeds player's tally to 27 goals in 55 international appearances and leaves Northern Ireland daring to dream of qualifying for a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years

Sanchez said: 'It is phenomonal strike rate. He is a world class striker.

'The team understand that he is a scoring machine. It was a fantastic hat-trick.

'We do set up chances for him and we know if we do that, more often than not he will take them.

'The great thing about David is that he is a very down-to-earth person. He does not see himself as a superstar.

'The players are pleased we have someone of his calibre.'

Healy has been a key player over the years and his record is even more remarkable considering the team once went 1,298 minutes without scoring.

Sanchez said: 'The fact that he kept turning up when he was having a streak like that emphasises the determination in his character.

'Now he is getting his rewards and is on a great run in our campaign.'

Substitute Grant McCann also found the target in stoppage time after Franz Burgmeier had scored a consolation for Liechtenstein.

Sanchez admitted: 'It was not an easy win. Liechtenstein were much more offensive than in their previous three qualifiers.

'We did a lot of things right in the first half but we only tested the keeper once when he made a good save from Keith Gillespie.

'We were a bit nervy at the back once or twice.

'I told them at half-time to keep doing the same things and the goals would come.

'We got one reasonably quickly and once we scored I knew we would get others.'

On the downside Gillespie is out of the crucial match against Sweden on Wednesday when Northern Ireland could go top of Group F.

'I am sure the Swedish manager (Lars Lagerback) is delighted,' said Sanchez.

'The other slight disappointment was to concede a goal so late on but overall it was a good night's work.'

Liechtenstein's new coach Hans-Peter Zaugg said: 'It was a very brutal result and a lesson for us.

'We had a great chance before half time but failed to take it and paid the price.

'You have to compliment Northern Ireland and Healy for the way they played and how he took those opportunities.'

Healy was thrilled at getting his second hat-trick of the qualifying campaign - he also got three goals in the stunning victory against Spain.

And he believes they could go on and qualify for the finals next year.

'You do not score many hat-tricks in your career so to grab two in the same qualifying series is special,' he told the BBC.

'They got men behind the ball in the first half but we broke them down in the second.

'Hopefully we can go on now and qualify for a major tournament. We are starting to make a bit of a name for ourselves.'

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