Belfast Telegraph

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski draws level with David Healy on European goals in a qualifying campaign

By Graham Luney

It was great while it lasted but David Healy now has to share his top goalscoring record in a single European Championship qualifying competition.

The Northern Ireland legend smashed Davor Suker's record of 12 goals for Croatia in the Euro 96 qualification campaign when he hit 13 ahead of the 2008 finals.

But now the Killyleagh man has been caught by Robert Lewandowski whose bullet header in a 2-1 victory for Poland secured automatic qualification for Euro 2016 while forcing Republic of Ireland into the play-offs.

Healy knew his record would be caught some day and it's perhaps no surprise the man from Warsaw, who has been in phenomenal form, joins the 36-year-old at the top of the scoring charts.

The Bayern Munich striker is enjoying a sensational spell, registering 22 times in his last 15 games for club and country.

The goal machine even managed to score five in nine minutes in a Bundesliga match against Wolfsburg last month.

But while four of Lewandowski's 13 goals came in the opening qualifier against Gibraltar, Healy can proudly boast of a hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Spain during his 12 matches in the 2008 campaign, a feat which was rewarded with a special award from Uefa president Michel Platini.

For the record Healy's goals came against Spain (3), Latvia (1), Liechtenstein (3), Sweden (2), Liechtenstein again (2), Iceland (1) and Denmark (1).

Lewandowski netted against Gibraltar (4), Georgia (3), Germany (1), Gibraltar (2), Scotland (2) and Republic of Ireland (1).

The former Leeds United ace, who scored 36 times in 95 matches for Northern Ireland, said at the time: "The hat-trick against Spain was the highlight. To score one against Spain was good but to score a hat-trick was great.

"It was a hugely entertaining campaign."

Northern Ireland missed out on qualification but under Michael O'Neill the current crop have defied the odds to reach their first European Championship finals in France next June. They may have to face Poland skipper Lewandowski, now Europe's most feared predator.

Most goals in a single UEFA EURO qualifying campaign: 13: David Healy (Northern Ireland) 2008; Robert Lewandowski (Poland) 2016; 12: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Netherlands) 2012, Davor Šuker (Croatia) 1996: 11: Raúl González (Spain) 2000, Toni Polster (Austria) 1996, Ole Madsen (Denmark) 1964; 10: Eduardo (Croatia) 2008, Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria) 1996, Darko Pancev (Yugoslavia) 1992.

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