Lowly Luxembourg humble Northern Ireland
Porous defence costs Michael O’Neill’s side at the Stade Josy Barthel
Northern Ireland’s Roy Carroll is dejected at the end of the match as he removes his goalkeeper’s top after the World Cup qualifying match at the Estade Josy Barthel in Luxembourg. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire.
Luxembourg 3 Northern Ireland 2 : Northern Ireland were humbled by lowly Luxembourg as Mathias Janisch grabbed a late but deserved winner at the Stade Josy Barthel.
Luxembourg had won just three World Cup qualifiers in their history before this match, the last of them at home in 1972.
Martin Paterson had put his side ahead against the run of play and Gareth McAuley looked to have snatched a draw in the 82nd minute, but in between goals from Aurelien Joachim and Stefano Bensi gave a fairer representation of the match.
So porous was the visiting defence a winner felt almost inevitable and it arrived when Janisch poked his shot through a mass of bodies in the 87th minute.
For Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill it will surely feel like much of the good work achieved in beating Russia last month and running Portugal close last week has evaporated.
LUXEMBOURG: Joubert; Laterza, Philipps, Mutsch, Mathias, Janisch, Jans, Krogh Gerson, Da Mota (Bukvic, 89), Bensi, Joachim, Turpel (Luisi, 68).
N IRELAND: Carroll; Hodson, Lafferty (Grigg, 80), McAuley, Evans, Ferguson (McKay, 60), McGinn (O’Connor, 35 ), S Davis, Norwood, Paterson, Ward. Booked; McAuley
Referee: R Malek (Poland).