World Cup qualifiers: Northern Ireland crash to shock defeat in Luxembourg
By Tim Oscroft. Last Updated: 10/09/13 10:48pm
Northern Ireland: Slipped to embarrassing defeat in Luxembourg
Luxembourg shocked Northern Ireland 3-2 to win a World Cup qualifying match for only the fourth time in their history.
Mathias Janisch stabbed the ball home just three minutes from time in an exciting encounter in the Grand Duchy.
The home side had earlier led for five minutes when Gareth McAuley made it 2-2 with eight minutes to go, only for Janisch to pop up at a free kick and grab their first World Cup win on home soil in 43 years.
Martin Paterson gave Northern Ireland an early lead which was cancelled out on the stroke of half time by Aurelien Joachim.
Stefano Bensi put Luxembourg ahead on 77 minutes, then McAuley equalised before Janisch's dramatic winner.
Prior to kick-off in the Josy Barthel Stadium, O'Neill's side could look back on some of the brighter signs from their recent performances.
They were leading Portugal 2-1 in Belfast until a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick and the indiscipline of Chris Brunt and Kyle Lafferty blew away hopes of a shock win. That had been preceded by Northern Ireland's only win of the qualifying campaign, at home to Russia, but their lacklustre draw with perennial strugglers Luxembourg on home soil a year ago typified a disappointing attempt to make it to Brazil in 2014.
The hosts started brightly following a pre-match downpour that had left a slick playing surface. The Northern Ireland defence allowed Lars Krogh Gerson to head powerfully wide from a corner, and seconds later Daniel Da Mota wriggled into space in the area but his shot failed to hit the target.
But Paterson calmed his side's nerves with the opening goal, the Huddersfield striker latching on to Shane Ferguson's well-placed pass from midfield before wrong-footing two defenders and then curling his shot past home goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert.
Luxembourg's main threat came from long range shots and Northern Ireland keeper Roy Carroll could only watch as, on the half hour mark, Gerson curled a cute shot over him. Thankfully for the 1,200 travelling fans, his effort only rattled the bar.
Luxembourg continued to create more chances, and Carroll was forced to parry away a rasping drive from the dangerous Bensi as the home side strived to bely their FIFA ranking of 140.
But with referee Robert Malek about to blow for half time, David Turpel's pass allowed Joachim to home in on goal before his shot looped over Carroll having deflected off the sliding Lafferty. It was what the spirited hosts deserved and capped a good fightback following Paterson's opener.
Bensi drove a free kick just wide of the post early in the second half, and as the game developed an end-to-end pattern, Jamie Ward saw his penalty claims waved away.
Substitute Billy McKay found the side-netting from close range just a few minutes after replacing Ferguson and Northern Ireland paid the price when the home side took the lead with 12 minutes left.
The impressive Bensi was allowed enough time and space to shoot from outside the area, and Carroll could not get a hand on the ball as it bounced past him to give Luxembourg the lead.
McAuley looked to have spared Northern Ireland's blushes five minutes later when his powerful downward header from a free kick bounced past Joubert.
However Joachim climbed well to knock down a free kick, and Janisch pounced with three minutes of normal time remaining to make a miserable qualifying campaign for Northern Ireland even worse with two testing away trips still to come.
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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Tue 10th Sep - Group F
Russia3 - 1Israel
Luxembourg3 - 2N Ireland
Tue 10th Sep - Group G
Lithuania2 - 0Liechtenstein
Slovakia1 - 2Bos & Herz
Greece1 - 0Latvia
Tue 10th Sep - Group B
Armenia0 - 1Denmark
Malta1 - 2Bulgaria
Italy2 - 1Czech Rep
Tue 10th Sep - Group C
Kazakhstan0 - 1Sweden
Austria1 - 0Rep Ireland
Faroe Islands0 - 3Germany
Tue 10th Sep - Group E
Norway0 - 2Switzerland
Cyprus0 - 2Slovenia
Iceland2 - 1Albania
Tue 10th Sep - Group I
Georgia0 - 1Finland
Belarus2 - 4France
Tue 10th Sep - Group D
Romania0 - 2Turkey
Andorra0 - 2Holland
Hungary5 - 1Estonia
Tue 10th Sep - Group A
Macedonia1 - 2Scotland
Wales0 - 3Serbia
Tue 10th Sep - Group H
San Marino1 - 5Poland
Ukraine0 - 0England
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||10||14|
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
|1||Bosnia and Herzegovina||10||25|
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I
Luxembourg v Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has branded his side's performance in losing to Luxembourg as "unacceptable".
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill gives his thoughts after his side were humbled by Luxembourg.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has blasted striker Kyle Lafferty, claiming he has not pulled his weight.