Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Northern Ireland hold Italy

Warren Feeney and Stefano Mauri (right)

Northern Ireland followed their 1-0 win over Slovakia last month with a stirring goalless draw against former world champions Italy in the Euro 2012 qualifier at Windsor Park.

Boss Worthington could not hide his delight at the final whistle in front of a capacity crowd.

And it could have been even better had David Healy not squandered a great chance in the first half.

With a feverish crowd behind them Northern Ireland won a corner in the eighth minute and that got a roar of approval. Grant McCann swung the ball in and goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano punched it clear under pressure.

Italy launched a swift counter-attack in the 13th minute and Domenico Criscito broke clear only to drag his shot across the face of the area and wide of the post.

Northern Ireland squandered a great chance of taking the lead in the 31st minute following a deep cross from the right by Brunt to the far post. Healy was the first to react but sent his header the wrong side of the post when it seemed he must score.

An Italy counter-attack left Marco Borriello with a one-on-one against goalkeeper Maik Taylor who blocked his close-range drive. The rebound fell at the feet of Antonio Cassano but he curled a shot wide of the post.

Northern Ireland then had a penalty appeal waved away by French referee Tony Chapron after Daniele De Rossi appeared to handle the ball in the area.

The hosts approached the second half confidently and Feeney saw a header narrowly clear the bar in the 72nd minute. Two minutes later it was Italy's turn to go close when Antonio Cassano's effort was superbly tipped over by Taylor.

Substitute Giampaolo Pazzini could have sealed it for Italy in the 86th minute but wasted the chance and headed wide of the post. Then in a rousing finish Davis saw his shot parried by the goalkeeper after a one-two with substitute Niall McGinn.

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