Healy heroics inspire Irish
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
David Healy inspired Northern Ireland to a 4-1 win over Liechtenstein with a hat-trick.
David Healy inspired Northern Ireland to a 4-1 win over Liechtenstein with a superb hat-trick in Vaduz to boost their Euro 2008 qualifying hopes.
The Leeds striker took his international tally to 27 goals with three second-half goals to sink the plucky minnows.
It was Healy's second hat-trick of qualification and means he has scored all bar one of Northern Ireland's goals in this campaign.
Northern Ireland began on the front foot as they dominated possession with Liechtenstein happy to sit back and defend.
Healy had the first noteworthy chance of the contest on 15 minutes when his free-kick from the edge of the box was comfortably collected by Peter Jehle.
Northern Ireland suffered a blow on 23 minutes when Keith Gillespie picked up a booking to rule him out of next Wednesday's qualifier with Sweden.
Kyle Lafferty got behind the home defence onto Steven Davis's clever pass, but his cross was saved at the near-post by Jehle with Healy waiting in the middle to convert the cross.
Northern Ireland came close to scoring on 31 minutes when Gillespie worked a neat one-two with Healy and chipped the ball goalwards only for Jehle to produce a fine save to tip his effort over the crossbar.
Liechtenstein almost caught Northern Ireland out on 33 minutes when Raphael Rohrer saw his shot deflected wide by Stephen Craigan.
Lafferty had a half chance two minutes before the break when he broke free down the right only to drag his shot wide of the target.
Liechtenstein went close to scoring right on the stroke of half-time when Franz Burgmaier headed Mario Frick's cross over the top from close-range.
Liechtenstein began the second half in determined fashion, but Northern Ireland managed to find the breakthrough on 52 minutes through Healy.
Northern Ireland's record scorer was on hand to fire into an empty net after Jehle had raced from his goal to deny Lafferty.
The home side refused to lie down after going behind and Rohrer drove a shot wide of the target on 57 minutes after the ball broke to him inside the box.
Liechtenstein almost drew level on 64 minutes when Frick burst past Craigan down the left and he fired in a shot which Maik Taylor saved well at his near-post.
Taylor had a scare on 71 minutes when he made a mess of coming out for a corner dropping the ball at the feet Martin Stocklasa and he was relieved to see the big defender drive his shot off target.
Northern Ireland made the game safe 15 minutes from time when Gillespie sent Healy clear on goal and the Leeds man coolly poked his shot under Jehle to put the game beyond Liechtenstein.
Healy almost grabbed his hat-trick five minutes later when he drilled in a shot which Jehle just about managed to divert away from goal.
Healy did get his treble on 83 minutes when Davis sent him scampering clear on goal and the Leeds man cheekily slotted his shot through the legs of Jehle.
Burgmaier grabbed a late consolation for Liechtenstein in the dying seconds when he cut inside from the left and curled a superb shot beyond Taylor.
There was still time for Northern Ireland to grab a fourth goal when Grant McCann rose highest to head home Gillespie's fine cross from the right for his first international goal.
|Liechtenstein||Team Statistics||Northern Ireland|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||12|
|6||Shots off Target||2|