Euro 2008

Qualifying group F

Northern Ireland 3 - Spain 2

N. Ireland: Carroll (Taylor 12'); Duff, Craigan, Aaron Hughes, Evans; Gillespie, Clinghan, Davis, Baird; Healy (Feeney 85'), Lafferty (Quinn 54'). 4-4-2.
Spain: Casillas; Sergio Ramos (Michel Salgado 46'), Puyol, Pablo, Antonio López; Xabi Alonso, Albelda (Cesc 28'), Xavi; David Villa, Fernando Torres (Luis García 63'), Raúl. 4-3-3.

0-1. 14. Xavi. First time volley past keeper from Antonio López cross.
1-1. 20. Healy. Intercepted headed back pass from Xavi Alonso to score.
1-2. 52. David Villa. Picked up return pass from Cesc to shoot past Taylor.
2-2. 64. Healy. Connected with Clinghan free kick to shoot wide of Casillas.
3-2. 79. Healy. Ran on to Taylor clearance to lob ball over head of keeper.

A serious setback for Spain in their second qualifying match, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the unfancied Northern Ireland knocking them off top spot of their group. Luis Aragonés's side seemed to be on their way to victory when Xavi volleyed home Antonio López's cross on the quarter hour mark, his country's one thousandth goal in international football. But only six minutes later a poor headed back pass by Xabi Alonso let in Healy to touch the ball past Casillas and score.

Spain went forward again trying to make amends, Fernando Torres trying his luck with a long shot. Albelda had to go off with a broken jaw to be replaced by Cesc, who had an effort deflected by the defence, and Alonso tried to make amends for his mistake with another effort just wide. However Lafferty gave another warning sign with a header just over the bar on the stroke of half time.

Aragonés made his second substitution at the break, Michel Salgado coming on for his Real Madrid team-mate Sergio Ramos. Lafferty wasted a good chance and David Villa had a header saved by substitute keeper Taylor, who had come on for the injured Roy Carroll early in the game, but seven minutes in to the half Villa picked up a pass from Cesc to restore the lead.

Once again though Healy equalised, slack marking allowing him to run free, connect with Clinghan's free kick and beat Casillas. Raúl could have won it for his side when he hit the post a few minutes later, but soon afterwards the defence stood watching as Taylor's long kick bounced through to Healy, who completed his hat-trick with a lob over the head of the stranded keeper.

Spain pushed forward for the last ten minutes but there was no way through, Taylor in particular making a spectacular injury time save from Puyol. Northern Ireland had won, and serious questions were raised back on the Iberian peninsular as to whether Luis Aragonés was still the right man for the job. Will he still be in charge for the next match against Sweden? Only time will tell.