The official website for European football

Northern Ireland add Russia to notable scalps

Published: Thursday 15 August 2013, 9.43CET
As Russia lick their wounds after defeat in Belfast, finds that Northern Ireland have a history of causing upsets – as Spain, England, West Germany and Italy can attest.
by Darren Fullerton
from Belfast
Northern Ireland add Russia to notable scalps
Gerry Armstrong celebrates with Billy Bingham after beating Spain at the 1982 World Cup ©Getty Images

Published: Thursday 15 August 2013, 9.43CET

Northern Ireland add Russia to notable scalps

As Russia lick their wounds after defeat in Belfast, finds that Northern Ireland have a history of causing upsets – as Spain, England, West Germany and Italy can attest.

Northern Ireland ended their two-year wait for a victory in some style on Wednesday with a 1-0 win that dented Russia's hopes in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Martin Paterson's towering header two minutes before half-time secured all three Group F points at Windsor Park. It was Michael O'Neill's first success in ten attempts as manager and Northern Ireland's first triumph in 14 outings dating back to August 2011 – and against a Russia side resurgent under Fabio Capello. Northern Ireland do, of course, have a long track record of causing upsets. picks out five of the best.

Northern Ireland 1-0 Spain, 25 June 1982
Perhaps the most famous victory of all came at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, stunning the hosts in their last Group 5 fixture. Two minutes into the second half in Valencia, Spain goalkeeper Luis Arconada palmed Billy Hamilton's low cross into the path of Gerry Armstrong who rifled in from close range. "We humbled Spain in their own bullring," said manager Billy Bingham, whose team played the last 28 minutes with ten men. Both sides nevertheless advanced to the second group stage.

Northern Ireland 1-0 England, 7 September 2005
"I don't think I will score a more important goal than that," David Healy said after arrowing an unstoppable shot past Paul Robinson 17 minutes from time. Few gave the home team much hope against Sven-Göran Eriksson's star-studded England in this 2006 World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park, but after soaking up the pressure Healy supplied the sucker punch. "The best team won – we were magnificent," said boss Lawrie Sanchez, the first man to guide Northern Ireland to victory against England since 1972.

©Getty Images

David Healy celebrates

Northern Ireland 3-2 Spain, 6 September 2006
If Healy wrote his name into Northern Irish football folklore against England the year before, his hat-trick against Spain in 2006 delivered him to the status of deity among fans. Spain twice led the UEFA EURO 2008 qualifier through goals from Xavi Hernández and David Villa, but Healy hit back each time before lobbing an exquisite winner over the sprawling Iker Casillas ten minutes from the end. Healy, who went on to set a record of 13 goals in a single UEFA EURO qualifying campaign, said it was a matter of pride having lost 3-0 to Iceland four days earlier.

West Germany 0-1 Northern Ireland, 16 November 1983
Bingham's men had already defeated the highly fancied West Germans 1-0 at home in 1984 UEFA European Championship qualifying courtesy of Ian Stewart's unerring strike, and here they made it a double. A close-range shot from Manchester United FC prodigy Norman Whiteside did the damage against Jupp Derwall's continental title holders in Hamburg. Northern Ireland eventually finished level on points with West Germany at the top of the pool, but missed out on qualification on goal difference.

Northern Ireland 2-1 Italy, 15 January 1958
Nothing could deny the Northern Irish a place at the 1958 World Cup, however, as they sealed progress to their first major tournament in memorable fashion in Belfast. Goals from Jimmy McIlroy and Wilbur Cush ensured Northern Ireland, captained by Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder Danny Blanchflower, pipped Italy to first place in qualifying Group 8. Peter Doherty's unheralded team continued to cause surprises in Sweden that summer, getting to the quarter-finals.

Last updated: 05/06/15 10.20CET

Related information

Player profiles
Team profiles