Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 May 2015

Northern Ireland can give them el, says Tel

Northern Ireland must put the pressure on Spain right from kick-off to secure another famous victory.

That's the verdict of former Northern Ireland assistant boss Terry Gibson, who along with Dave Beasant did so much in the background during the successful Lawrie Sanchez era.

Gibson is now with Sanchez at Fulham, but retains great affection for Northern Ireland and is hoping Nigel Worthington's side make it through to the European Championship finals tonight.

And he believes that they have a chance, even though he admits Spain are in excellent form having seen them overwhelm Sweden 3-0 at the weekend.

"I was over in Spain for a few days and watched them win against Sweden," said Gibson.

"I have to say they were outstanding, and while I don't want to frighten anyone, Cesc Fabregas was only their third best midfielder behind Iniesta and Xavi.

"I do know though that Spain will be changing their team from Saturday.

"Even so they will still be favourites because they have so much quality to choose from.

"And they also want revenge for the 3-2 defeat at Windsor Park earlier in the campaign.

"Believe me however, Northern Ireland do have a chance.

"They will have large travelling support which always helps and they have great spirit in the ranks.

"Then there is David Healy, who can score goals from anywhere as he has shown so often in this group.

"He has scored many more goals than people like David Villa, Fernando Torres and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which is some going.

"The Spanish have been raving about him over the last few days.

"He actually gets more respect for his goal scoring achievements at international level in Spain than in England.

"You could probably say the same thing about the Northern Ireland team as a whole.

"They have done brilliantly to take it to the last game and are now looking for one more big result.

"To get it, we must put pressure on the Spanish early on," said Gibson, using the term "we", showing that old habits die hard.

He adds: "We can't allow them time on the ball or possession because they will hurt you.

"For instance one of the goals against Sweden came after 14 passes and about a minute of possession.

"Northern Ireland must not let them dictate and if they can do that, don't rule out a shock away win.

" I wouldn't be too sure about Sweden beating Latvia because the Swedes were poor against Spain.

"I'd love to see the boys qualify and I know Lawrie and Dave feel the same way.

"We had a great time with Northern Ireland and still talk about it. The fans and players deserve to get to the finals."

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