Luxembourg stun Northern Ireland

first_img Ferguson’s energy down the left seemed Northern Ireland’s best option in greasy conditions but Luxembourg continued to exert pressure. After Bensi found him waiting at the edge of the penalty area, Gerson opened his body and curled a shot against the crossbar with Roy Carroll beaten. It was a reminder for the visitors not to sit too deep when Luxembourg had possession. McGinn was forced off with an injury 10 minutes before half-time, with Rotherham’s Michael O’Connor summoned from the bench for his first cap in three years. Bensi continued his impressive showing with a powerful shot that required a smart reflex save from Carroll, and with the referee seconds away from blowing for half-time, Luxembourg effected a classic counter-attack on the back of two Northern Ireland corners. Joachim was the outlet, peeling off Jonny Evans and Daniel Lafferty before his shot looped off the latter and into the net. Luxembourg came out with visible intent after the break, setting up camp in the Northern Ireland half for five uninterrupted minutes. One elaborate corner routine, involving a cheeky stepover, left Mario Mutsch with a sight of goal but he could not direct his shot through a crowd of bodies. Yet Luxembourg sensed blood. Northern Irish nerves were palpable when Carroll chested McAuley’s back pass and then handled under pressure from Bensi, giving away an indirect free-kick inside the area. The ball was touched to Bensi, whose powerful shot flew just wide of the far post. With an hour gone Inverness forward Billy McKay was handed a competitive debut off the bench, Ferguson making way as O’Neill committed more men to attack. McKay had a chance to make his mark in the 69th minute, latching on to Paterson’s clever reverse flick inside the six yards box. But while his touch took the ball past the goalkeeper it also forced him wider than he would have liked, and the resulting shot thudded into the side netting. Luxembourg’s momentum was waning but they received the biggest boost of all when they took the lead with 12 minutes remaining. Antonio Luisi did well to cushion a long ball on his chest, feeding the advancing Bensi who raced forward as the defence dropped deep. He got within 25 yards before pulling the trigger, beating Carroll with a superb drive into the bottom corner. The equaliser, four minutes later, was less cultured but no less effective – McAuley getting on the end of Norwood’s free-kick and seeing his downward header creep in at the far post. Northern Ireland had lost all sense of shape now and Luxembourg could have won it when Luisi saw a certain goal charged down by Evans at the final moment. The winner still seemed likely though, and arrived in the 87th minute when Janisch stabbed home from close range following another defensive meltdown. Northern Ireland were humbled 3-2 by lowly Luxembourg as Mathias Janisch grabbed a late but deserved winner at the Stade Josy Barthel. Press Association Luxembourg had won just three World Cup qualifiers in their history before this match, the last of them at home in 1972, but were full value for three points as Northern Ireland turned in a turgid display. 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 that a winning goal 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 now evaporated. Northern Ireland almost cashed in on an under-hit back pass inside 30 seconds, Jamie Ward chasing down unsuccessfully, but otherwise the hosts looked in greater control in the opening stages. They had most of the early possession and Daniel Da Mota – a scorer in the 1-1 draw at Windsor Park – rode Oliver Norwood’s challenge before bending a hopeful effort off target. Lars Gerson headed a teasing corner wide before Bensi produced a mazy run into the box, but it was Northern Ireland who scored against the run of play. Shane Ferguson spotted a gap in the home defence and found the alert Paterson when he drifted into it. The Huddersfield striker took a touch to get the ball out of his feet and then finished emphatically with his left boot. It was the 26-year-old’s third international goal and second in his last three appearances following his winner against Russia. last_img read more

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Ambris, Hope plunder New Zealand A with centuries

first_imgLINCOLN, New Zealand, (CMC) – Sunil Ambris wasted little time in pressing his claim for a spot in the West Indies Test side with an exhilarating, better than run-a-ball hundred against New Zealand A here Saturday.The right-hander smashed a stroke-filled 153 while Shai Hope gathered a composed 110 as the Caribbean side amassed 451 for nine on the opening day of the three-day tour match at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval.Roston Chase chipped in with 49, wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich scored 35 while captain Jason Holder got 31, to ensure the tourists’ domination in excellent conditions.West Indies had struggled early on, however, slumping to 45 for three in the morning session before the recovery came.Impressive fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, who finished with five for 67, removed both openers Kraigg Brathwaite (17) and Kieran Powell (7), before seamer Logan van Beek (2-60) accounted for Shimron Hetmyer (12).Brathwaite fell half-hour into the session with the score on 28, nicking a defensive prod behind and the left-handed Hetmyer lasted nine balls before he was taken in the cordon by Todd Astle with 45 on the board.Approaching the hour, Powell departed when he was lbw to Ferguson, leaving West Indies with a rebuilding job.Hope, classy and composed, then inspired the Windies fightback, adding 81 for the fourth wicket with Chase and a further 155 for the sixth wicket with Ambris.All told, the right-handed Hope faced 133 deliveries in 218 minutes and counted 20 fours and a six. Unbeaten on 20 at lunch with West Indies on 108 for three, he reached his half-century in the second session, to be 94 not out at tea.He raised three figures soon afterwards off 122 deliveries.Chase, meanwhile, unbeaten on 41 at lunch, perished in the sixth over afterwards – caught at second slip by captain Tom Latham off Ferguson at 126 for four.Jermaine Blackwood followed cheaply for four but Ambris arrived to plunder the hosts’ attack in an innings that required 145 balls, in just under 3-1/4 hours and included 24 fours and a six.He was not out on 51 at tea and eventually brought up his landmark off a mere 85 balls with 18 fours and a six.On 247 for five at the last interval, West Indies swiftly gathered 204 runs in the final session as Ambris went on a rampage against a tiring attack.The 24-year-old, who struck two hundreds in the recent Windies A series against Sri Lanka A in the Caribbean, displayed his superiority as he put on a further 89 with Dowrich for the seventh wicket and 53 for the eighth with Holder.WEST INDIES 1st inningsK Brathwaite c wkp Blundell b Ferguson 17K Powell lbw b Ferguson 7S Hetmyer c Astle b van Beek 12S Hope b Ferguson 110R Chase c Latham b Ferguson 49J Blackwood c Neesham b van Beek 4S Ambris c wkp Blundell b Ferguson 153+S Dowrich c Bennett b Worker 35*J Holder c Worker b Bennett 31R Reifer not out 1A Joseph not out 12Extras (b5, lb11, nb3, w1) 20TOTAL (9 wkts, 90 overs) 451To bat: D Bishoo, M Cummins, S Gabriel, K Roach.Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-45, 3-45, 4-126, 5-135, 6-290, 7-379, 8-432, 9-438.Bowling: Bennett 16-1-87-1, Ferguson 18-2-67-5, van Beek 17-5-60-2, Neesham 14-1-67-0, Astle 14-2-97-0, Bruce 6-0-28-0, Worker 5-0-29-1.New Zealand A – *T Latham, J Raval, G Worker, N Broom, T Bruce, +T Blundell, J Neesham, T Astle, L Ferguson, L van Beek, H Bennett.last_img read more

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