Iceland coach Eyjólfur Sverrisson was pleased with his side's 2-1 win against Northern Ireland after reading up on his opponents' tactics "on the internet".
Defeat in Reykjavik has put a significant dent in Nigel Worthington's side's hopes of reaching the finals of UEFA EURO 2008™ from Group F, with a last-minute own goal from Keith Gillespie giving Iceland victory just four days after captain Chris Baird had put through his own net to see Northern Ireland lose 1-0 in Latvia. Iceland had previously beaten Northern Ireland 3-0 in their opening qualifier in Belfast.
"I knew they were going to put pressure on us, I read that on the internet, so we had to stop them in midfield," said Sverrisson, who had already delighted in a 1-1 home draw against Spain on Saturday. "We made the most of our best defenders and were quicker going forward as our defence gained more self-confidence. All our players are strong and ready to take anyone on - we are known for that and must build on it. I am very pleased with the result."
'Ready to work'
Ármann Björnsson's early goal prompted Northern Ireland to attack in waves and forced Sverrison to make adjustments. "They were ready to work for a win and came into the game strongly but we withstood that pressure," he said. "Their best chances were from set-pieces. We needed to keep them further away from our goal but did not do that well enough but after I substituted more strength into the midfield it got better. Maybe I should have done that earlier in the game."
Pride in defeat
David Healy equalised from the penalty spot to take his qualifying tally to 12 goals from nine games - equalling the qualifying record of Croatia's Davor Šuker who scored a dozen from ten games before EURO '96™ - but that prompted an Icelandic rally which eventually brought the late winner. Worthington, whose side now trail Sweden and Spain by three points, despaired but did not question his players' commitment. "I am very pleased with the effort and quality of our game but we lost it, got away with nothing," he said. "That is the disappointing thing but there are many positive things to take with us to the next game."
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