Healy scores to secure home draw

Northern Ireland 1- 1 Azerbaijan
Published Wednesday, 14 November 2012
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Record goal scorer David Healy saved Northern Ireland from an embarrassing defeat against Azerbaijan, securing a last-gasp draw in their World Cup qualifying match at Windsor Park.

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Michael O'Neill's hopes of reaching Brazil in 2014 are fading after the side only managed to take three points in four games in group F.

Wednesday night's disappointing home result against Azerbaijan came after last month's encouraging draw in Portugal.

Rauf Aliyev struck a sensational opener in the fifth minute for the visitors before the hosts, who sit 23 places above Azerbaijan in the FIFA world rankings, wasted a large number of good chances.

Kyle Lafferty, Craig Cathcart and Chris Baird all failed to equalise.

In the end, O'Neill played his final card by sending on 33-year-old Healy for Cathcart.

The late substitute drilled home a free-kick to score his 36th international goal, rescuing a dramatic point five minutes into added time. The Bury striker had not scored for Northern Ireland in over four years.

It's not good enough. We've drawn two games at home that we should have won. These are games we would expect to win but haven't done that.

Michael O’Neill

After the game O'Neill admitted Healy remains an important figure.

"It's not just about tonight and his impact on the pitch, he's just a good player to have around the squad," he said.

"To have Healy around when the younger players come in is fantastic. He knows, realistically, that his impact for us now will be from the bench but it's great to have the option to throw him on.

"I'm delighted for him to get a goal because he's been a fantastic servant and however long he continues I know he has the personality to continue."

O'Neill had made clear a win was needed at Windsor Park, after a disappointing home draw against Luxembourg in September.

"I'm hugely disappointed not to win the game because we did everything in our power to do that," he said.

"But I can't fault the players for the effort and they kept going right to the end. We probably played a little bit desperately at times and even early on we chased the game a bit.

"The players never stopped believing and they got the very least they deserved. They created so many chances and in that it was very similar to the Luxembourg match, even more so than that."

Azerbaijan manager Berti Vogts said: "Before the game I would have been delighted with a draw, but now I am disappointed not to have won."

Northern Ireland will resume their World Cup qualifying campaign against Russia in March 2013.

© UTV News
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22 Comments
Frosty in Here wrote (519 days ago):
@Gerard in Belfast wrote (2 days ago): No point in even lamenting missed opportunites what could have would have or should have. The main point is Northern Ireland will NEVER qualify for Euros or World Cup ever as long as planet earth is in existence. Mark my very words - hate to burst your bubble Gerry but if you do a wee search on the internet, you'd find you might be right about the Euros, but Northern Ireland has qualified for the World Cup 3 times in the past, the same number of times as the Republic of Ireland. Ain't facts just great?
Danny in Ulster wrote (520 days ago):
There a few posters on here (we all know who) that just spout the same political drivel when anything to do with Northern Ireland is mentioned (which is quite often as UTV is a local broadcaster), dunno why they bother, no one takes any notice... They should really get out more instead of sitting in front of a PC all the time, even if it is only to watch the Republic of Ireland get beaten again! lol
Exbelfast in Ontario wrote (520 days ago):
I watched Nr. Ire. football game against Azerbaijan via salelite and I was disapointed the team didn't use the oppertunities that came their way. I have watched Rory Patterson play and it was a pity he left Colerain so soon.With proper coaching this guy could be a super star! Mean while the best has yet to come.
Peter in Belfast wrote (520 days ago):
yeah Ryan: wise up!
william in coleraine wrote (520 days ago):
@ryan you dont speak for the community, pat mccourt nial mcginn rory patterson. are from what you would call nationalist areas and play for northern ireland. people support their country or there local club. keep your politics out of sport ryan. anyone from northern ireland is welcome to support them come visit northern ireland mark im sure you probably havent even been here
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