N.Ireland end winless run
Northern Ireland ended their wait for a victory in Group 3 with a 4-0 victory over San Marino.
Last Updated: 16/10/08 11:26am
Northern Ireland earned a 4-0 victory over San Marino at Windsor Park on Wednesday to end their wait for a first win in World Cup 2010 qualifying Group 3.
Having suffered late heartbreak in Slovenia at the weekend on top of a previous defeat to Slovakia and a draw with Czech Republic, Nigel Worthington's side were expected to comfortably record their first three-point haul.
However, San Marino - ranked 200th in the world by Fifa - made life frustrating for their hosts and it was not until the 30th minute that Northern Ireland broke the deadlock in Belfast.
Inevitably it was all-time record goalscorer David Healy that struck as the Sunderland forward hit the back of the net for the 35th time at international level following good work from George McCartney and Grant McCann.
Healy and McCann again combined well 13 minutes later as Northern Ireland doubled their advantage, with the latter finishing with aplomb from the edge of the box.
Eleven minutes after the interval, Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty added a third for the home side as he tapped in when San Marino goalkeeper Federico Valentini could only palm a Healy effort.
The visitors then had full-back Mauro Marani dismissed for raising his hands against Michael O'Connor, and Worthington's side made their numerical advantage count as Steven Davis flicked in a low Lafferty cross with 15 minutes remaining.
Northern Ireland should have been ahead as early as the third minute when O'Connor, making his first start, headed over from close range following a cross from Davis.
The home side set a high tempo from the off and Keith Gillespie rattled in a shot after 10 minutes that was blocked.
Davis got into a good position after 26 minutes, only to send his effort straight into the goalkeeper's arms.
Northern Ireland got their reward for their hard work in the 30th minute when Healy made the breakthrough following a marauding run by McCartney and a neat pass from McCann,
McCann then added a second in the 42nd minute, expertly drilling his effort home from the edge of area after being set up by Healy.
Healy, who has not played much at the Stadium of Light, was looking sharper in the second half. He turned quickly a minute later only to see his effort taken quickly by the goalkeeper.
Lafferty made it 3-0 in 56th minute following a blunder by the goalkeeper, who pushed a weak shot from Healy into the path of the Rangers striker. He gratefully accepted the gift.
San Marino's troubles increased in the 63rd minute when they were reduced to 10 men with Mauro Marani sent off for lashing out at O'Connor.
Rangers midfielder Davis made it 4-0 in the 75th minute with a cool finish following good work from Lafferty.Substitute Martin Paterson found the net in stoppage time but his effort was disallowed for an infringement.
|Northern Ireland||Team Statistics||San Marino|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||0|
|10||Shots off Target||0|