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Euro 2012: Northern Ireland hold Italy

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Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle

Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle

©William Cherry / Presseye

Steven Davis battles Italy's Antonio Cassano

Steven Davis battles Italy's Antonio Cassano

Chris Baird battles Italy's Stefano Mauri

Chris Baird battles Italy's Stefano Mauri

Niall McGinn battles Italy's Domenico Criscito

Niall McGinn battles Italy's Domenico Criscito

Niall McGinn battles Italy's Domenico Criscito

Niall McGinn battles Italy's Domenico Criscito

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley battles Italy's Giorgio Chiellini

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley battles Italy's Giorgio Chiellini

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis battles Italy's Andrea Pirlo

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis battles Italy's Andrea Pirlo

Fans at WIndsor Park

Fans at WIndsor Park

Phillip Hughes and Steven Bryce from Milltown Dungannon

Phillip Hughes and Steven Bryce from Milltown Dungannon

Kaleb Wilson

Kaleb Wilson

Taylors from Belfast: Stephen, Patton, Duncan and Iain

Taylors from Belfast: Stephen, Patton, Duncan and Iain

Mathew and David Herron with Jeff and Lauren Hagin

Mathew and David Herron with Jeff and Lauren Hagin

Northern Ireland fans Roger Irvine, Peter Swann, Ricky Neely and Ricky Parker

Northern Ireland fans Roger Irvine, Peter Swann, Ricky Neely and Ricky Parker

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley jumps with Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley jumps with Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano

Paul Faith

Norther Ireland's David Healy battles Italy's Daniele De Rossi

Norther Ireland's David Healy battles Italy's Daniele De Rossi

Northern Ireland v Italy

Northern Ireland v Italy

Northern Ireland fans

Northern Ireland fans

Northern Ireland fans

Northern Ireland fans

Norther Ireland fans Billy McAneney and his grand daughter Sarah Shields from Bangor

Norther Ireland fans Billy McAneney and his grand daughter Sarah Shields from Bangor

Steven Taylor and Nathan Wilkinson from Portadown

Steven Taylor and Nathan Wilkinson from Portadown

Northern Ireland v Italy

Northern Ireland v Italy

Mason King from Belfast

Mason King from Belfast

Tasha Blair from Limavady

Tasha Blair from Limavady

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Reeny Crawford from New Zealand and Dorothy Gibson from Lisburn

Reeny Crawford from New Zealand and Dorothy Gibson from Lisburn

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Matthew  from Belfast

Matthew from Belfast

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Stephen McCormick from Newtownards pictured before the match

Stephen McCormick from Newtownards pictured before the match

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle

©William Cherry / Presseye

Northern Ireland's Stephen Craigan (centre) and Steven Davis with Italy's Antonio Cassano

Northern Ireland's Stephen Craigan (centre) and Steven Davis with Italy's Antonio Cassano

Northern Ireland fans

Northern Ireland fans

Italy's Stefano Mauri Ê.

Italy's Stefano Mauri Ê.

Stephen Craigan with Italy's Daniele De Rossi just before Northern Ireland claimed the ball hit the Italian for a handball

Stephen Craigan with Italy's Daniele De Rossi just before Northern Ireland claimed the ball hit the Italian for a handball

Drew Burgess (left) with his wife Julie (right) and Stuart Killen from Newtownards

Drew Burgess (left) with his wife Julie (right) and Stuart Killen from Newtownards

Kilkeel Northern Ireland supporters club

Kilkeel Northern Ireland supporters club

Portavogie Northern Ireland supporters club

Portavogie Northern Ireland supporters club

Zak Stewart from the Portavogie Northern Ireland supporters club

Zak Stewart from the Portavogie Northern Ireland supporters club

Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes had his family cheering him on during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Italy at Windsor Park.  Daughters Keira (6), Leila (4) pictured with mum Sam walked out with dad before the big game

Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes had his family cheering him on during Friday nights Euro 2012 qualifier against Italy at Windsor Park. Daughters Keira (6), Leila (4) pictured with mum Sam walked out with dad before the big game

©William Cherry / Presseye

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle with Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle with Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano

©William Cherry / Presseye

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle with Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle with Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano

©William Cherry / Presseye

Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle

Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle

©William Cherry / Presseye

Grant McCann battles Italy's Mattia Cassani

Grant McCann battles Italy's Mattia Cassani

Gareth McAuley and Kyle Lafferty celebrate on the final whistle

Gareth McAuley and Kyle Lafferty celebrate on the final whistle

©William Cherry / Presseye

Nigel Worthington celebrates on the final whistle

Nigel Worthington celebrates on the final whistle

©William Cherry / Presseye

Steven Davis of Northern Ireland gets past Andrea Pirlo of Italy

Steven Davis of Northern Ireland gets past Andrea Pirlo of Italy

Mike Hewitt

Stephen Craigan of Northern Ireland salutes the crowd

Stephen Craigan of Northern Ireland salutes the crowd

Mike Hewitt

Niall McGinn of Northern Ireland is challenged by Claudio Marchisio of Italy

Niall McGinn of Northern Ireland is challenged by Claudio Marchisio of Italy

Mike Hewitt

Claudio Marchisio of Italy controls the ball during the EURO 2012 Qualifier Group C match

Claudio Marchisio of Italy controls the ball during the EURO 2012 Qualifier Group C match

Mike Hewitt

Stefano Mauri of Italy and Chris Brunt of Northern Ireland compete during the Euro 2012 group C qualifying match

Stefano Mauri of Italy and Chris Brunt of Northern Ireland compete during the Euro 2012 group C qualifying match

Claudio Villa

Andrea Pirlo of Italy is challenged

Andrea Pirlo of Italy is challenged

Mike Hewitt

Warren Feeney of Northern Ireland challenges Giorgio Chiellini of Italy

Warren Feeney of Northern Ireland challenges Giorgio Chiellini of Italy

Mike Hewitt

Florian Solinas Newark who will be 9 tomorrow from Italy but who lives in Belfast receives his  complimentary tickets to tonight's International football match at Windsor park from Podium for Sport Director Paul

Florian Solinas Newark who will be 9 tomorrow from Italy but who lives in Belfast receives his complimentary tickets to tonight's International football match at Windsor park from Podium for Sport Director Paul

Stephen Craigan of Northern Ireland sees his cross stopped by the arm of Daniele De Rossi of Italy

Stephen Craigan of Northern Ireland sees his cross stopped by the arm of Daniele De Rossi of Italy

Mike Hewitt

Warren Feeney and Stefano Mauri (right)

Warren Feeney and Stefano Mauri (right)

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Kyle Lafferty celebrates on the final whistle

Northern Ireland 0 Italy 0: Former world champions Italy are the latest team to realise you cannot take Northern Ireland lightly.

Following a 1-0 victory against Slovenia last month, Nigel Worthington's side picked up a point at Windsor Park in this Euro 2012 qualifier.

Northern Ireland 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.

However there was much to be cheerful about - not least the performances from goalkeeper Maik Taylor and defenders Aaron Hughes and Stephen Craigan.

They built a solid wall and Italy were left frustrated following victories against Estonia and the Faroe Islands

With a feverish crowd behind them Northern Ireland won a corner in the eighth minute and that got a roar of approval.

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Grant McCann swung the ball in and goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano punched it clear under pressure. It broke to Chris Brunt, who mis-kicked but the game came to a halt following a foul on the goalkeeper.

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.

Back came Northern Ireland and Brunt tried his luck from distance following a short free-kick by Steven Davis but his effort was blocked.

It was an even game at this stage and Simone Pepe got into a good position. However he miscued his shot in front of goal and failed to test veteran goalkeeper Maik Taylor.

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.

Italy suddenly broke down the middle. Borriello was left with a one-on-one with Taylor only for the goalkeeper to stand tall and block 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.

There was more entertainment from the crowd than on the pitch with both sides creating few chances.

However Borriello found himself in space in the 62nd minute but he failed to trouble Taylor as his finish was weak.

Worthington then made his first change in the 66th minute when Healy was replaced by Kyle Lafferty.

The Rangers striker came into the game in a good run of form after scoring in the victory against Hearts at the weekend and a hat-trick in the defeat of Dunfermline.

Lafferty quickly won a corner and McCann flighted the ball in only to see it safely taken by the goalkeeper.

Northern Ireland were playing with a degree of confidence 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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