Late heartache for N.Ireland
Luxembourg score late equaliser to earn 1-1 draw in Belfast
Last Updated: September 11, 2012 11:13pm
Luxembourg held Northern Ireland to a 1-1 draw at Windsor Park in their 2014 World Cup qualifier.
Dean Shiels broke the deadlock for the hosts as early as the 14th minute, but Daniel da Mota's deflected effort from close range in the 86th minute saw the visitors earn a point in this Group F fixture.
Northern Ireland dominated proceedings for most of the match, had three goals disallowed and also hit the post once, but were left searching for their first win of the qualifying campaign.
Michael O'Neill's side started the game with real purpose, almost scoring in the first minute, the chance came from a corner, won after good interplay between Kyle Lafferty and Shiels.
Brunt floated it to West Brom team-mate Gareth McAuley who, after winning the header, directed the ball straight at the goalkeeper.
A loose pass from Ryan McGivern gifted Aurelien Joachim space to shoot, only for Jonny Evans to make the block.
Then Northern Ireland took the lead through Shiels. Somewhat surprisingly Evans played the role of creator, surging upfield and exchanging neat passes with the Rangers man.
Evans' second pass cut open the defence and Shiels lifted his shot deftly over the oncoming Jonathan Joubert.
After 21 minutes Evans thought he had made it 2-0 himself from a neat corner routine but the goal was ruled out due to a push.
The hosts had a second effort disallowed soon after, Lafferty stroking a fine effort into the top corner after good work from Chris Baird, only to be pulled up for offside.
In the five minutes before half-time, Northern Ireland had three presentable chances to add to their lead.
Shiels failed to make the most of Guy Blaise's slip, then Lafferty chipped high and wide after being teed up by Brunt, who himself might have shot.
The West Brom man then found Baird with a bullet corner, but the latter's header flashed inches wide of the far post.
Luxembourg sent on Maurice Deville to lead the line for the second half in place of Joachim and they looked a sturdier proposition as the second half got under way.
Winger Mario Mutsch attempted to stretch the home back four five minutes into the second period but Evans was on hand with a forceful sliding tackle.
A McGivern overlap set Northern Ireland back on the attack but although Shiels got his head to Steven Davis' cross, a red shirt blocked it on its way towards goal.
Northern Ireland had a third effort struck off by the officials on the hour, Lafferty in an offside position when he sidefooted Shane Ferguson's cross home.
Had their advantage not been so slender, the hosts may even have found some humour in the situation.
Lafferty, given onside for once, saw a 20-yard shot brush the outside of the post via Joubert's gloves but otherwise the closing stages were an increasingly nervy affair as Luxembourg pressed forward.
Davis gave Brunt the chance to ease the pressure with seven minutes left but, after meeting the carefully-measured pass, he rolled his shot against the base of the post.
Then, just moments later, the sucker punch arrived. With too many green shirts committed forward, Luxembourg surged up the pitch and a shot opened up for Da Mota.
His effort appeared to be heading wide until it took a huge deflection off McGivern's shoulder to leave Roy Carroll stranded.
The Luxembourg bench celebrated emphatically, leaving the home fans to boo their players off at the final whistle.
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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Tue 11th Sep - Group E
Cyprus1 - 0Iceland
Norway2 - 1Slovenia
Switzerland2 - 0Albania
Tue 11th Sep - Group F
Israel0 - 4Russia
N Ireland1 - 1Luxembourg
Portugal3 - 0Azerbaijan
Tue 11th Sep - Group I
Georgia0 - 1Spain
France3 - 1Belarus
Tue 11th Sep - Group D
Romania4 - 0Andorra
Turkey3 - 0Estonia
Hungary1 - 4Netherlands
Tue 11th Sep - Group B
Bulgaria1 - 0Armenia
Italy2 - 0Malta
Tue 11th Sep - Group G
Bosnia4 - 1Latvia
Slovakia2 - 0Liechtenstein
Greece2 - 0Lithuania
Tue 11th Sep - Group A
Serbia6 - 1Wales
Belgium1 - 1Croatia
Scotland1 - 1Macedonia
Tue 11th Sep - Group C
Sweden2 - 0Kazakhstan
Austria1 - 2Germany
Tue 11th Sep - Group H
San Marino0 - 6Montenegro
Poland2 - 0Moldova
England1 - 1Ukraine
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C
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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I