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Northern Ireland stunned by Luxembourg draw
Published : 11 Sep 2012 22:47:42Rss feed
Northern Ireland's hopes of getting to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil suffered a setback as lowly Luxembourg somehow left Windsor Park with a 1-1 draw in qualifying Group F on Tuesday.
All was going well for the hosts until they conceded an equaliser four minutes from time which left Northern Ireland with just one point from two Group F matches following a 2-0 defeat by Russia last Friday.
Dean Shiels scored his first international goal in the 14th minute to put Northern Ireland 1-0 up, and a further three efforts were then disallowed by the officials, while Chris Brunt also hit the post.
And Northern Ireland's failure to double their lead was punished in the 86th minute when Daniel da Mota's shot went in off Ryan McGivern's shoulder, with goalkeeper Roy Carroll stranded.
The goal sparked huge celebrations on the Luxembourg bench, as indeed did the final whistle, with home fans booing Northern Ireland off the pitch.
There were cheers instead of jeers earlier in the match when Jonny Evans exchanged passes with Rangers' Shiels, who coolly lifted his shot over the advancing Jonathan Joubert.
After 21 minutes, Evans thought he had made it 2-0 from a corner routine but the 'goal' was ruled out due to a push and Northern Ireland had a second effort disallowed soon afterwards when Lafferty's shot into the top corner was ruled out for offside.
On the hour, offside again proved Northern Ireland's undoing with Lafferty flagged after steering the ball in from close range.
Then, with sickening inevitability for the men in green, the equaliser arrived when Luxembourg made the most of the home team having too many men forward to launch a counter-attack.
Even then the hosts might have escaped, so wayward was da Mota's shot until it struck the luckless McGivern.