• FT

    Armenia

    0

    Kazakhstan

    1

  • FT

    Georgia

    0

    Lithuania

    2

  • FT

    Romania

    6

    Albania

    1

  • FT

    Cyprus

    0

    Czech Rep

    2

  • FT

    Azerbaijan

    0

    Belgium

    1

  • FT

    Belarus

    2

    Netherlands

    1

  • FT

    Israel

    1

    Macedonia

    0

  • FT

    Slovenia

    0

    Bulgaria

    2

  • FT

    Denmark

    3

    Iceland

    0

  • FT

    Malta

    1

    Norway

    4

  • FT

    Spain

    1

    N Ireland

    0

  • FT

    Sweden

    2

    Latvia

    1

  • FT

    Turkey

    1

    Bosnia-Herz

    0

  • FT

    Hungary

    1

    Greece

    2

  • FT

    Germany

    0

    Wales

    0

  • FT

    Italy

    3

    Faroe Island

    1

  • FT

    San Marino

    0

    Slovakia

    5

  • FT

    Ukraine

    2

    France

    2

  • FT

    Portugal

    0

    Finland

    0

  • FT

    Serbia

    2

    Poland

    2

  • FT

    Andorra

    0

    Russia

    1

  • FT

    England

    2

    Croatia

    3

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING

Estadio de Gran Canaria, Spain

Referee: Herbert Fandel | Attendance: 30000

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Spain

  • Xavi 52'

1 - 0

FT

Spain 1-0 Northern Ireland: Spain end Irish hopes

Northern Ireland's Euro 2008 qualification hopes fizzled out tonight as a

deflected Spain goal condemned them to defeat in Gran Canaria.

Xavi's fortuitous second-half strike brought Northern Ireland's dreams to an

end while Sweden beat Latvia 2-1 to rule out the Province's hopes anyway.

The Ulstermen ended their thrilling campaign on a relative low, with Xavi's

long-range drive careering off Sammy Clingan's head to wrong-foot Maik Taylor.

An unlikely victory in Gran Canaria combined with Latvia beating Sweden would

have seen the Province secure a place in Euro 2008 and end their long absence

from a major finals.

  • Worthington: I'm not walking away
  • Worthington made two changes to his side as they faced their night of

    destiny.

    Chris Baird and Ivan Sproule returned as Jonny Evans and Keith Gillespie were

    both suspended.

    Northern Ireland's hopes rested mainly with striker David Healy, who was

    looking to improve on his record 13-goal tally in the qualifying campaign.

    The Irish had incredible backing for this crucial fixture - over 4,000

    supporters made the trip to Gran Canaria.

    Spain started brightly and Xavi cracked a shot wide of Taylor's post after two

    minutes.

    The home side had loud claims for a penalty waved away by referee Herbert

    Fandel in the seventh minute after David Silva went to ground following a

    challenge from Stephen Craigan.

    Spain were having the majority of possession and knocking the ball around with

    the confidence of a nation that had secured their place in the finals with one

    match to spare.

    Northern Ireland, however, responded in the 17th minute when Healy typically

    made space for himself only to see his effort from distance go over the bar.

    There was little respite, however, and Sergio Ramos found the side-netting in

    the 21st minute following a neat through ball from Cesc Fabregas.

    The conditions were certainly different to what they were in Belfast at the

    weekend when Denmark were defeated in torrential rain. Tonight the temperature

    was a balmy 20 degrees.

    Spain stepped up the pressure and Taylor got down quickly to smother a shot

    from Daniel Guiza.

    Then a minute later Sergio Ramos came within inches of making the

    breakthrough, only for Clingan to clear off the line.

    Northern Ireland, however, were beginning to pick up the pace of the game with

    Chris Brunt finding space on the left.

    The West Brom winger was wasting no time in delivering the ball into the area

    for Healy and his strike partner.

    Fabregas then sprung into life after 38 minutes and the Arsenal midfielder

    stung Taylor's fingers with a rasping drive from 20 yards.

    The home crowd, though, were becoming a little bit frustrated by their team's

    inability to break the deadlock despite some neat play.

    Taylor then did well in the 40th minute to claw away a cross from Andres

    Iniesta after it took a sudden deflection.

    Northern Ireland were again on the back foot two minutes later when Gareth

    McAuley reacted quickly to boot away Guiza's close-range effort.

    This was a testing time for the province and Taylor parried a 25-yard shot

    from Marcos Senna before blocking Silva's effort.

    Spain went ahead in the 53rd minute with Northern Ireland cursing their luck.

    Taylor seemed to have Xavi's 25-yard effort covered but he was left

    wrong-footed after it took a deflection of Craigan.

    It was an uphill task for the province now and Worthington reacted by bringing

    on Kyle Lafferty for Brunt after 59 minutes. Lafferty scored a superb equaliser

    against Sweden and had been forced to miss the victory over Denmark through

    suspension.

    Spain should have extended their lead two minutes later when substitute

    Joaquin pulled the ball back from the byline. It looked a tap-in for Silva but

    he somehow managed to steer his shot wide of Taylor's post.

    The Ulstermen refused to give in and Healy received a booking for a late

    challenge on Sergio Ramos.

    As Northern Ireland poured forward in search of an equaliser, more and more

    gaps were opening in their defence.

    Taylor had to be sharp off his line to thwart the onrushing Joaquin five

    minutes from full-time as the Spaniards looked to kill of the game.

  • Worthington: I'm not walking away
  • Nigel Worthington has indicated he would be interested in becoming Northern

    Ireland's manager on a permanent basis after their hopes of reaching Euro 2008

    were dashed at the final hurdle.

    The match also effectively ended Worthington's tenure as manager after he

    succeeded Lawrie Sanchez halfway through the campaign.

    Worthington looks set to meet officials from the Irish Football Association

    following the World Cup draw on Sunday.

    Worthington said: 'It is not a case of walking away, it is a case of things

    being right for Nigel Worthington and everyone involved. I have enjoyed the

    experience but it remains to be seen what happens.

    'I think the players and I have bonded and been pleased to be in each other's

    company.

    'You can see that on the pitch which is the important thing.'

    The Province were left cursing their luck as Xavi's goal took a deflection off

    defender Stephen Craigan.

    It left goalkeeper Maik Taylor wrong-footed and after that they were left

    facing an uphill task.

    Worthington said: 'Stephen's tried to get his head on the ball and it's gone

    the other way.

    'It was a cruel blow but that's part and parcel of the game.

    'But no matter which way you look at it, it was a gutsy performance.

    'We didn't have a lot of possession but our character was magnificent.

    'I'm very proud of the team - to lose 1-0 against a side like Spain is no

    disgrace.

    'They know they've been in a fight tonight.

    'We can hold our heads up high. The team have grown together and I've been

    thrilled with the campaign.'

    Northern Ireland were backed by over 4,000 fans and Worthington added: 'We

    have taken huge numbers to away games and that just shows the progress we have

    made and the fans were magnificent again tonight and gave us great backing.'

    Scoring Summary

    • Spain
    • Northern Ireland
    Xavi (52')
     

    Match Stats

    • Spain
    • Northern Ireland
    18(12) Shots (on goal) 2(0)
    2 Fouls 11
    10 Corner kicks 3
    2 Offsides 2
    66% Time of Possession 34%
    0 Yellow Cards 2
    0 Red Cards 0
    0 Saves 7

    Teams

    • Spain
    • Northern Ireland
    Substitutes
    Substitutions
    Yellow Cards