Three goals in ten second half minutes ensure Spain win comfortably
|4||Rep of Ireland||2||0||1||1||0||2||1|
Luis Suárez reverted his formation to 4-4-2, similiar to how he had played in the friendlies against Yugoslavia and Argentina. The approach with 5-3-2 against Rep. of Ireland proved too cautious. He had to manage without Manuel Sanchís (his omission was due to injury), and so Górriz kept his place in the team. In came Beguiristain on the left side, almost as a third, wide striker.
Northern Ireland had in their last outing lost to that late Vincze goal in Budapest, and knew they were in for a big ask to get anything from Seville. They were without the suspended Danny Wilson, whose booking in Hungary was already his second of the World Cup qualifying campaign, thus leaving him out here. Another change saw in-form Chelsea striker Kevin Wilson replace Newcastle’s Michael O’Neill. However, Bingham was not foreign to using players out of position, and so Wilson took to central midfield and not as Colin Clarke’s partner up front.
Referee would be experienced Belgian official Marcel van Langenhove, who had made his international debut more than 11 years earlier. This would be his fourth World Cup qualifying fixture, as he had previously refereed during England’s 4-0 win over Norway for ’82, and also Finland v Romania and Sweden v West Germany for the ’86 tournament in Mexico.
|1 Andoni Zubizarreta||27||Barcelona|
|2 Quique Flores||23||Valencia|
|3 Manuel Jiménez||24||Sevilla|
|4 Genar Andrinúa||24||Athletic Bilbao|
|5 Alberto Górriz||30||Real Sociedad|
|7 Manolo||sub 78′||23||Atlético Madrid|
|8 Míchel||25||Real Madrid|
|9 Emilio Butragueño (c)||25||Real Madrid|
|10 Rafael Martín Vázquez||23||Real Madrid|
|11 Txiki Begiristain||sub 65′||24||Barcelona|
|12 Miguel Chendo||27||Real Madrid|
|13 Juan Carlos Ablanedo||25||Sporting Gijón|
|14 Ricardo Serna||on 65′||24||Barcelona|
|15 Ramón Vázquez García||24||Sevilla|
|16 Julio Salinas||on 78′||26||Barcelona|
Northern Ireland (4-5-1)
|1 Allen McKnight||24||West Ham|
|2 Anton Rogan||22||Celtic|
|3 Nigel Worthington||27||Sheffield Wednesday|
|4 John McClelland (c)||33||Watford|
|5 Alan McDonald||36′||25||QPR|
|6 Mal Donaghy||sub 68′||31||Manchester United|
|7 Steve Penney||24||Brighton|
|8 David McCreery||sub 54′||31||Newcastle|
|9 Colin Clarke||26||Southampton|
|10 Kevin Wilson||27||Chelsea|
|11 Kingsley Black||20||Luton|
|12 Phil Hughes||24||Wigan|
|13 Gary Fleming||21||Nottingham|
|14 Jimmy Quinn||on 54′||29||Leicester|
|15 Michael O’Neill||on 68′||19||Newcastle|
|16 David Campbell||23||Charlton|
Spain’s 4-4-2 formation is very close to a 4-3-3, as Begiristain at times pushes very far forward on his left hand side, almost making it a three-pronged Spanish attack line, with Manolo perhaps more to the right, and with Butragueño in the centre. Behind them, there’s the impressive central midfield trio of Roberto, Martín Vázquez and Míchel, the latter who directs a lot of the home team’s attacks from his somewhat deeper role, although he does not lie as deep as he did against the Republic of Ireland in their previous match. Suárez has opted for only one man-marker: Górriz has been glued onto Colin Clarke, with Andrinúa free to sweep behind him. As always, the full-backs are licensed to go forward, but with more caution now that Spain are playing with four rather than five at the back. After the first Northern Irish substitution in the second half, Suárez feels the need to play safe, even if his team are walloping the visitors. This he does when replacing Begiristain with defender Serna, who is given more or less a free role, also contributing in midfield when Spain are on the attack.
Northern Ireland start off with a traditional square back four, and with Donaghy in the anchor role just in front of the two central defenders. It had so nearly paid off with a point to utilize this kind of tactics in Hungary, and he helped the Irish in keeping things tight at the back yet again, frustrating the Spanish as they were for the opening half an hour, until Rogan’s unfortunate own goal. McCreery was playing just ahead of Donaghy, but did hardly influence the game despite all his endeavour. In yet a slightly more advanced role there was K Wilson, who is no natural midfielder, but who covered a lot of ground and also tried his best in accompanying Clarke on the few occasions that the Northern Irish broke forward. Both wingers were up against some agile full-backs, so they found it difficult trying to impress, even if Black did have his moments.
As McCreery had to come off with injury, Bingham chose to bring on Quinn in his place. It seemed very strange, as it left the central midfield area so exposed. It was only a matter of minutes before the Spanish took advantage, and they would score three times in quick succession. Quinn, a natural striker, more or less joined Clarke up front, with K Wilson dropping slightly deeper, or so will have been the idea. As it were, neither knew exactly where to play, and there was no one to try and tame the waves that kept battering against the increasingly worked Irish defence. If the home side had not taken their foot off the gas, it could have turned really nasty for the Ulster brigade.
The Seville pitch was in a pretty dire condition. The ball would bounce awkwardly, and you’d have thought perhaps this could give Northern Ireland’s less technically gifted players a slight advantage. However, Spain pretty much controlled the match from start to finish, playing the kind of high-octane game which we had seen glimpses of in their previous outing against the other Ireland team. The Ulstermen were content to sit deep to try and deny the hosts space, with Mal Donaghy yet again performing in his ‘Paul McGrath role’ just in front of the back four. However, whereas he had done well in Hungary, Spain was a totally different proposition. At times the light-footed Spaniards would run around their opponents at will, but in the opening half hour the visitors did manage to keep the hosts at bay. It would take a disastrous own goal from young Celtic full-back Anton Rogan for the home side to make the break-through. However superior Spain might have been in the opening 45 minutes, they could not create a lot of clear-cut opportunities. They were mainly restricted to long range efforts, most notably through midfielders Vázquez and Roberto, who both had left-footed efforts from outside the box straight into the expecting grasp of West Ham ‘keeper McKnight. At the other end, Colin Clarke would all night tussle with Górriz at the heart of the home defence, and sometimes also with sweeper Andrinúa. He does know how to put himself about, target-man Clarke, but against rugged Spanish defenders he rarely got a sniff in. Northern Ireland were without Wolves winger Robbie Dennison, who was sidelined through a knee-injury, but young Luton flank man Kingsley Black was operating down the left hand side, and he was the Irishmen’s biggest attacking threat, giving Spanish right-back Quique Flores a difficult time. He also had a free-kick from nearly 30 yards parried by Zubizarreta, with Wilson hitting the rebound into the side netting off a Spanish defender (though a corner was not given). Down the other wing, though, there was not a lot of success for Ulster, as Spain’s left back Jiménez, who was playing in front of his home crowd, quite easily dealt with a tame Steve Penney. The first half saw a single booking, which was handed out to Irish stopper McDonald for tugging back Butragueño. As a result, the Queens Park Rangers defender will miss their next qualifier.
Barcelona’s midfield maestro Roberto set the tone as he struck McKnight’s bar a minute and a half in. Shortly after Newcastle’s veteran midfield man McCreery had to come off after a clash of knees with Butragueño, and surprisingly Bingham opted to bring on Leicester City forward Jimmy Quinn to replace him, leaving their midfield dreadfully exposed. Quinn had scored for fun for Swindon the previous season, but had found life more difficult in the second tier of English football upon their promotion from Div 3, and he had only started 10 out of 21 matches so far. With two regular strikers playing in midfield in front of Donaghy, Northern Ireland would soon concede three goals in quick succession: The ‘Vulture’ netted a rebound from when Górriz’ shot had been saved on the goal line by McClelland’s crown jewels for 2-0, Míchel scored a penalty down the middle to make it three after McClelland had tripped Begiristain, and just after Spain had introduced Barcelona central defender Ricardo Serna, Roberto was credited with the fourth, a shot which took a wicked deflection off Alan McDonald. Spain were content after this. If they had continued to pile on the attack, they could’ve really hit Northern Ireland hard, but chose to go 5-3-2, with Serna going into heart of their defence alongside Górriz and in front of sweeper Andrinúa. The wing-backs were allowed to push further forward, and Spain did have chances to inflict more damage, but they were happy to take 4-0 and bag another two points to go top of the group. Northern Ireland had caused a lot of damage to Spain six and a half years earlier, when a Gerry Armstrong goal in Valencia was enough to condemn the World Cup host nation to a shock defeat, and though the Spaniards had got sweet revenge in Mexico four years later, this result will have left them with a sugary taste in their mouths.
1 Zubizarreta 6.6
hardly had a save to make.
2 Quique 6.9
found Black a tricky opponent at times, but defended well when he had to. Was concentrating mainly on defensive duties.
3 Jiménez 7.1
Penney was never allowed a sniff, and Jiménez also got forward to support Begiristain. Good game.
4 Andrinúa 7.0
sweeped with conviction. Was not challenged enough, but still proved what a capable defender he is. Excellent reader of the ball, and he always positions himself well.
5 Górriz 7.5
kept Clarke quiet throughout. Won a great majority of the challenges between the two. Close to scoring the 2-0 goal.
6 Roberto 7.1
good engine, and had brought his shooting boots: From four efforts, two were saved by McKnight, one rammed the crossbar and another one went in. Works well with the two Real Madrid players.
7 Manolo 6.9
not as lively as against the Republic, but was still a handful for both Worthington and McClelland.
(16 Salinas –
the game’s gone static when he makes his entrance, he gets about two touches and that’s it.)
8 Míchel 7.2
again, a less impressive display than last time around, but still very much in the thick of the action, and with some exquisite passing. Easily dispatched the pen for 3-0.
9 Butragueño 7.2
showed his striker’s instincts as he pounced on a loose ball for 2-0. Kept McClelland and McDonald, two monsters, on their toes throughout. Good link-up play with fellow forwards.
10 Martín Vázquez 7.5
outstanding performance. Very good technically, seems to release the ball exactly when he is supposed to, and is behind a lot of the Spanish goal attempts. Only drawback: left his shooting boots at home.
11 Begiristain 7.2
mainly runs down the left hand side, gives Rogan a bit of a hard time, and contributes to the pen from which Míchel scores the 3-0 goal.
(14 Serna 6.8
comes on to make sure Spain don’t concede after Northern Ireland have brought on another striker.)
1 McKnight 6.8
deals well with two Roberto efforts, and is not at fault for either goal, though perhaps communication could have been better with Rogan for the opening goal.
2 Rogan 6.4
did not do much wrong first 30 minutes, but the own goal seemed to drain him for confidence. Struggled with Begiristain after that.
3 Worthington 6.5
uses his physique well, but has a very quick opponent in Manolo, and is left trailing in his wake on a couple of occasions.
4 McClelland 6.4
when Spain got the ball passed round at pace along the deck, McClelland almost looked dizzy. Unlucky that the ball falls for Butragueño as he stops Górriz’ shot on the goal line when 2-0 occured, but clumsy challenge on Begiristain to give away the penalty. Not his best game.
5 McDonald 6.5
a small fraction better than his partner, but again McDonald had one of his moments in rushing out from his territory against advancing opposition, when he would have been better off staying back. Will he ever learn? His aerial ability hardly requested, as Spain didn’t play to his strengths.
6 Donaghy 6.6
had a sound first half, but once left exposed he crumbled. However, it wasn’t his fault.
7 Penney 5.9
not quite up to this level, unfortunately.
(15 O’Neill –
came on to perform wide, a role he did not seem confident in, but then again they were already 4-0 down as he appeared.)
8 McCreery 6.1
feet not quick enough to live with demands. Was overran by the Spanish midfield three.
(14 Quinn 5.8
did not know what his role was, and so Bingham’s blunder handed Spain three goals in quick succession.)
9 Clarke 5.7
second best to Górriz throughout. No support.
10 K.Wilson 7.1
never stopped trying or believing, but was sadly alone. A very good game.
11 Black 6.7
did get the better of Quique on a couple of occasions, but was lacking in support from more central areas of midfield.