Sport

Northern Ireland pull off shock draw

The Home Nations did not have a particularly successful week in World Cup qaulifiers; Scotland and Wales both suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium and Croatia respectively.

England and Northern Ireland both managed to achieve a 1-1 away draw against Poland and Portugal, but really it was the Northern Irish that deserved to come away from their fixture with a draw.

England’s hopeless performance on Wednesday after the match was postponed when the pitch was waterlogged on Tuesday night was more reminiscent of their abject performance against Italy in the European Championships rather than their display against San Marino the previous Friday.

The ball was treated as if it was contaminated with the Black Plague and Wayne Rooney, for all of his acclaimed brilliance, was unable to get up to speed against the Polish, despite netting from Steven Gerrard’s 31st minute corner.

Arguably this spurred the Poles on further and although the English defence played well, restricting the Poles to few chances, centre back Kamil Glik was able to head the ball in to an empty net due to poor misjudgement from Joe Hart. Poland deserved their point, and England now realise that qualification for the 2014 World Cup will be a real battle.

Northern Ireland’s draw can only be described as a “smash and grab”, as they were put under massive amounts of pressure after Nial McGinn scored on the half hour mark. They defended resolutely, until they allowed Hélder Postiga to equalise in an untidy manner.

Scotland and Wales suffered in their games. Gareth Bale almost scored a brilliant solo goal for Wales only to be foiled by the Croatian goalkeeper. Craig Levein’s Scotland are extremely unlikely to qualify for the World Cup and Levein would have been irked at the lack of fight shown by his players.

23/10/2012

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