Healy strike sinks Danes
Northern Ireland maintained their faint hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008 after coming from behind to beat Denmark.
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 17/11/07 10:59pm
Northern Ireland maintained their faint hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008 after coming from behind to beat Denmark 2-1 in Belfast.
Things looked bleak for Nigel Worthington's men shortly after half-time when Niclas Bendtner stabbed home from close range.
However, the home side never threw in the towel and got back on level terms when Warren Feeney headed Chris Brunt's cross past Thomas Sorensen.
The contest was illuminated 10 minutes from the end when David Healy's superb chip nestled inside the far post - moving him past Davor Suker's 12-goal qualifying record.
The victory means Northern Ireland can still qualify, although they will still need to win in Spain and hope Sweden lose at home to Latvia in order to feature in Austria and Switzerland next summer.
Denmark almost took the lead in the 13th minute when Dennis Rommedahl was left clear at the back post. But he seemed to be off-balance and skied his effort high and wide to Northern Ireland's relief.
The home side hit back and Steve Davis saw his effort cleared before Healy went close in the 18th minute.
He cut inside, beat two men only for the goalkeeper to beat away his effort.
The province stepped up the pressure and Jonny Evans headed narrowly wide following a corner from Brunt.
Gillespie was then booked for a challenge on Chris Sorensen and that means he will miss the match against Spain.
Aston Villa's Martin Laursen then raced forward to get on the end of a corner from Rommedahl, however he failed to test Maik Taylor with his header going high over the bar.
A mistake by Sammy Clingan let in Bendtner in the 48th minute but Taylor beat away his effort.
Bendtner was not to be denied and the Arsenal striker opened the scoring two minutes later. He took advantage of some poor marking to toe-poke the ball home after a long throw from Leon Andreasen.
Northern Ireland were rocked by that goal but Feeney almost pulled them level in the 57th minute.
He powered in a header following good work by Davis but Sorensen hurled himself across the face of the goal to make the save.
Northern Ireland took heart from that effort and drew level through Feeney in the 61st minute. He got away from his marker to flick a header beyond the goalkeeper following a cross from Brunt and claim his third goal for his country.
Feeney almost put Northern Ireland ahead in the 65th minute with a spectacular half-volley from 35 yards. It beat Denmark goalkeeper Sorensen but came off the base of the post.
Then Healy curled a free-kick wide from 25 yards three minutes later.
Feeney, on loan at Swansea from Cardiff, was growing in confidence and clipped a shot wide in the 76th minute following a cross from Healy.
Inevitably it was Healy who gave Northern Ireland the lead three minutes later.
And it was one to be proud of as well - an instinctive chip from an acute angle which went over the goalkeeper's head and into the net.
It was his 33rd goal in 61 games and Northern Ireland were in dreamland.However Rommedahl almost equalised in the last minute, his free-kick coming back off the post then Andreasen hoisted a shot over the bar as the province rode their luck.
|Northern Ireland||Team Statistics||Denmark|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|4||Shots off Target||6|