After beating their hosts in their last outing 4-0, England were looking for a comfortable evening in Belfast. However, this game, and the result, was anything but comfortable. This was a humiliating
defeat at the hands of a team ranked 116th in the FIFA World Rankings (England were ranked 7th as they went into this game but that will change after this loss).
While it seemed that England players lacked passion in this match, Rooney was fired up in more ways than one. He played a nice ball to Owen on the edge of the box at 16 minutes, but Newcastle's
newest acquisition's shot was saved by Northern Ireland goalkeeper, Taylor. Beckham almost saw his free-kick on 27 minutes, after Davis was penalised for fouling Young, go into Northern Ireland's net, but while Taylor couldn't get to
the ball, the woodwork prevented the visitors taking the lead.
With four minutes remaining in the first half, the interval couldn't come quickly enough for the England team as Rooney began to lose his composure. Rooney was shown the yellow card after going for
a high ball with Gillespie and used his arm. The youngster is now out of the fixture against Austria next month thanks to this caution. He was lucky to escape a caution moments later and
several of his team-mates tried to calm him down. The Manchester United striker was clearly wound-up and needed the half-time break to sort out his head to enter the game in the second half
in a better frame of mind before he reduced his side to 10 men. Before the whistle was blown Owen bicycle kicked the ball towards Northern Ireland's goal but Taylor was able to save the effort.
This was one of Lampard's quietest games for his country but he forced a great save from Taylor from 25 yards during the opening period of the second half. Paul Robinson had to make a save at the
feet of Quinn after the ball took a deflection from Carragher following a cross from Healy. Then Windsor Park erupted after 73 minutes of play when the home team broke through England's defence.
Davis played the ball to Healy who beat Robinson and fired the ball into the top corner.
With the game slipping away from England, Owen tried to get the equaliser late in the match but unfortunately Taylor was doing his job in guarding his net well.
This was Eriksson's first loss in a qualifer, and it was England's first loss to Northern Ireland since 1972. All is not lost for England, but they do need to re-group and go all out to get
the six points available from their last two matches of this qualifying round next month.
Taylor #1, Baird #2, Capaldi #3, Craigan #5, Hughes #18, Davis #6, Elliott #11 (Duff 90+2 mins - #17), Gillespie #7, Johnson #8, Healy #9 (Sproule 88 mins - 16), Quinn #10 (Feeney (79 mins - #15).
Subs Not Used: Ingham #12, Brunt #4, Robinson #13, Jones #14.
Robinson #1, Carragher #6, A Cole #3, Ferdinand #5, Young #2, Beckham #7, Gerrard #4 (Defoe 75 mins - #17), Lampard #8 (Hargreaves 80 mins - #15), Wright-Phillips #11 (J Cole 54 mins - #16),
Owen #10, Rooney #9.
Subs Not Used: Kirkland, Upson, P Neville, Bent. (Full Squad)
Northern Ireland Goal: Healy (74 mins)
Northern Ireland Cautions: Johnson (29 mins), Capaldi (64 mins), Baird (77 mins)
England Caution: Rooney (42 mins)
Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)