Euro 2008

Qualifying group F

Spain 1 - Northern Ireland 0

Spain: Reina; Sergio Ramos, Pablo, Raúl Albiol, Pernía; Marcos Senna; Iniesta, Xavi (David Villa 66'), Cesc (Joaquín 46'), David Silva; Güiza (Tamudo 56'). 4-1-4-1.
N. Ireland: Taylor; McAuley, Hughes, Craigan, Baird; Sproule (Robinson 46'), Davis, Clinghan, Brunt (Lafferty 59'); Feeney (Paterson 71'), Healy. 4-4-2.

1-0. 53. Xavi. Struck long shot which Craigan deflected past own keeper.

Spain beat Northern Ireland in their last match to finish top of their group and deprive their opponents of a place in the finals. Having already qualified after the win against Sweden on Saturday, Luis Aragonés used the occasion to try out some of his lesser used players. But even so his side were on top for most of the first half, with Xavi shooting just wide in only the second minute and Canary Island local boy David Silva having a penalty appeal turned down soon afterwards. Visiting keeper Maik Taylor was in action to save from debutant Güiza as well as Cesc, Iniesta and Senna, and Ireland were thankful for the half time whistle when it came.

Early in the second half though Spain made the breakthrough when Craigan got a head to Xavi's long shot only to deflect it past Taylor into his own net. Silva could have added to lead after that when he shot wide after Joaquín set him up, but by then news had come in that Sweden were winning their game, meaning that Frank Worthington's side had no chances of qualifying even with a win, and the game fizzled out to a practice session. Spain will be in next month's final draw, and Northern Ireland finish the tournament in a more than acceptable third place, signalling their return to the international stage after a long period in the doldrums.