Ok, the headline is a bit misleading. “Famous” is an exaggeration, since nobody outside of Northern Ireland will be talking about this for much longer than a couple of days. “Hold on” is another misnomer, as they were eleven minutes away from claiming a win. Even so, it’s a strong result for a team ranked 114 places lower than their hosts.
Although Portugal dominated the match, it was hardly a completely one-sided affair as Northern Ireland had their fair share of chances. One such chance was taken on the half-hour mark as Niall McGinn chipped the ball over Portugal’s Rui Patricio, giving his country the distinct possibility of recording their first win in these World Cup Qualifiers. As it happened, their resolute defending spared them for 49 minutes, but Helder Postiga – who had been a threat all night – found the net from close range with only eleven minutes left, saving Portugal’s blushes. In fact, Portugal could have scored plenty more throughout the 90 minutes, with Roy Carroll and his defenders making a number of vital blocks.
Despite the draw against a highly-rated team (that have now fallen to third in Group F), Northern Ireland have to accept that they have little to no chance of qualifying following their 1-1 draw against Luxembourg. They have a vital match against Azerbaijan next which they need to win and win well in order to keep any hopes alive. Even so, they have installed themselves as the second-best team in the United Kingdom following two more poor performances last night from Scotland and Wales.
The only thing that was more of a damp squib than either of those sides was Poland’s national stadium after the farce that unravelled for two hours. England’s match against the hosts has been moved to today following a deluge of rain, despite the stadium having a roof. I won’t pretend to understand the mechanics of it all, with the roof being unable to be closed during heavy rain, but something should have been done sooner. Now, both teams know each other’s line-ups and may be done something about it. And that’s the least of their problems, with upcoming fixtures, inconvenienced fans and the race to get the pitch dry in time.
Highs and Lows
Today’s “Highs and Lows” features a substantial number more lows than highs as several sports saw complete failures for British’s entrants. Nowhere was this demonstrated more than in badminton’s Denmark Open as all of our entrants crashed out of all doubles competitions after just one match. Robert Blair, paired with two different foreign teammates, put up decent fights but was unable to progress. Olympic players Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier continued their losing form with a straight sets defeat to Thai opponents. Marcus Ellis also followed his Dutch Open second place by losing both opening games.
Similar losses came for Yorkshire in the opening round of the Twenty20 Champions League and for Anne Keothavong, losing the opening doubles match in Luxembourg this time around. Whilst England’s netball team succumbed to a second successive loss in southern hemisphere, Wales did the opposite and won their third match in a row against the Cook Islands hosts.
Fortunately, Phil Taylor brought some cheer to English fans by completely dominating the fourth group of the Championship League. Taylor had come close so many times last month by finally displayed his mettle by whitewashing two opponents and coming close almost every other time. He continued his form into the semis and final, dropping just one set in the last match against Mark Walsh – an improvement on their earlier tie.
Tuesday 16/10/2012 Results
Cricket: Twenty20 Champions League
Yorkshire Carnegie (5th) lost to Sydney Sixers by 8 wickets, 96-9 to 98-2
Football: World Cup Qualifiers
Croatia 2-0 Wales (5th)
Belgium 2-0 Scotland (6th)
Portugal 1-1 Northern Ireland (4th)
Poland v England postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Netball: Cook Islands Tour
Cook Islands 20-71 Wales
Netball: Quad Series
New Zealand 61-43 England
Darts: Championship League Group Four
Phil Taylor 6-4 Simon Whitlock (AUS)
Mervyn King 1-6 Andy Smith
Mark Walsh 6-5 Paul Nicholson
Terry Jenkins 4-6 Dave Chisnall
Andy Smith 0-6 Phil Taylor
Simon Whitlock (AUS) 6-1 Mervyn King
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Mark Walsh
Paul Nicholson 5-6 Terry Jenkins
Andy Smith 6-4 Terry Jenkins
Phil Taylor 6-0 Paul Nicholson
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Mervyn King
Simon Whitlock (AUS) 5-6 Mark Walsh
Terry Jenkins 1-6 Phil Taylor
Andy Smith 2-6 Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock (AUS) 4-6 Dave Chisnall
Mervyn King 3-6 Mark Walsh
Mervyn King 6-1 Terry Jenkins
Mark Walsh 2-6 Phil Taylor
Paul Nicholson 6-4 Simon Whitlock (AUS)
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Andy Smith
Mark Walsh 6-3 Andy Smith
Simon Whitlock (AUS) 5-6 Terry Jenkins
Paul Nicholson 6-2 Mervyn King
Phil Taylor 6-1 Dave Chisnall
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Paul Nicholson
Terry Jenkins 6-5 Mark Walsh
Mervyn King 1-6 Phil Taylor
Andy Smith 4-6 Simon Whitlock (AUS)
Phil Taylor won the group, Dave Chisnall second.
Phil Taylor 6-3 Paul Nicholson
Dave Chisnall 4-6 Mark Walsh
Phil Taylor 6-1 Mark Walsh
Tennis: Erste Bank Open
Jamie Murray/Andre Sa (BRA) beat Lukas Lacko/Igor Zelenay (SVK) 7-5 6-3
Tennis: BNP Paribas Luxembourg
Anne Keothavong/Andreja Klepac (SLO) lost to Kiki Bertens/Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-3 2-6 6-10
Squash: Premier Squash League
Chapel Allerton (5th) 2-3 MB Nottingham (3rd)
AJP Pontefract (6th) 0-5 Benz-Bavarian Duffield (1st)
University of Birmingham (4th) 2-3 Oxford H&R (2nd)
Winchester R&F (4th) 3-2 UWE Bristol (5th)
Integrity Surrey H&R (3rd) 2-3 Team Chichester (2nd)
Exeter Diamonds (1st) 5-0 TWP St George’s Hill (6th)
Badminton: Denmark Open
Robert Blair/Koen Ridder (NED) 1-2 Kasper Antonsen/Nikolaj Overgaard (DEN) 21-17 14-21 13-21
Marcus Ellis/Paul Van Rietvelde 0-2 Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Jonas Rasmussem (DEN) 19-21 12-21
Robert Blair/Vita Marissa (INA) 1-2 Robert Mateusiak/Nadiezda Zieba (POL) 16-21 21-16 25-23
Chris Adcock/Imogen Bankier 0-2 Songphon Anugritayawon/Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (THA) 17-21 11-21
Marcus Ellis/Gabrielle White 0-2 Patiphat Chalardchaleam/Savitree Amitrapai (THA) 17-21 18-21