Skela strike sinks Northern Ireland

Ervin Skela's superb goal in the first half handed Albania a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in their international friendly on Wednesday night.

Last Updated: 03/03/10 at 22:16 Post Comment

Taylor: Busy night's work

Taylor: Busy night's work

Bet £10 Get £30

Daily Offers And Promotions. Join Now & Bet £10 and Get a £30 Free Bet

Motherwell defender Stephen Craigan should have been celebrating his first goals for Northern Ireland in his 46th international appearance.

Instead his luck was out in this friendly as he saw both efforts come back off the woodwork in the second half as his side chased the game against Albania.

A makeshift Northern Ireland side improved in this period but were unable to get the equaliser after Skela's superb goal for the hosts in the 25th minute.

It means there was no end to a dreadful away record which has seen them record only three victories in 22 matches.

Northern Ireland were given a chasing in the first half and were lucky to be only a goal down.

The pitch at the Qemal Stafa Stadium was muddy and rutted after heavy recent rain - hardly conducive to good football.

Birmingham goalkeeper Maik Taylor got a taste of what was to come when was called into action after two minutes. He dealt comfortably with a shot from Erjon Bogdani.

Albania were playing with confidence and Ansi Agolli saw his effort clear the bar in the 12th minute.

Five minutes later Northern Ireland again found themselves on the back foot, only for Klodian Duro to put too much height on his shot.

This was a difficult spell for the visitors and Taylor showed good reflexes to turn over a superb free-kick from Skela in the 21st minute.

A minute later Northern Ireland responded with a quick counter attack and Little got on the end of a Grant McCann cross but no-one reacted to his cushioned header.

Albania opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Skela sent a magnificent free-kick past Taylor after McCartney had been hauled back for a challenge on Bogdani.

A number of Northern Ireland players looked frustrated, especially Kyle Lafferty, who was booked for dissent.

The Rangers striker is no stranger to controversy either and went into the match on the back of criticism for his behaviour in the Old Firm game on Sunday.

He was involved in an incident that saw Scott Brown red-carded and many pundits thought he should have been punished as well.

O'Connor also picked up a yellow card and the 80 Northern Ireland supporters who made the trip were having little to cheer about.

Albania were well in control and Agolli dragged a shot wide in the 42nd minute with the defence all at sea.

Worthington made two changes at the break, bringing on Dean Shiels and Corry Evans for Niall McGinn and O'Connor.

Evans was drafted into the squad after his brother Jonny pulled out and returned to Manchester United with a knee problem.

Albania were looking comfortable and Agolli cleared the bar with his effort from the edge of the area.

However Northern Ireland almost drew level in the 61st minute when Grant McCann floated in a corner.

Craigan got clear of his marker and powered in a header only to see it come back off the bar.

Lafferty came off a minute later and was replaced by Coleraine's Rory Patterson, making his debut.

Taylor did well to stop a header from substitute Lorik Cana before coming off in the 71st minute. Jonny Tuffey was given a run-out and Craigan took the armband from Taylor.

Craigan was again cursing his luck in the 74th minute when his shot struck the post.

Patterson latched on to the rebound but saw it blocked by goalkeeper Isli Hidi and Albania went on to seal the victory.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

More Match Results

Thursday, 07 August 2014
02:00
Peru 3-0 Panama  
Sunday, 29 June 2014
12:35
China 1-3 Mali  
Sunday, 22 June 2014
09:00
China 0-0 Macedonia  
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
12:30
China 2-0 Macedonia  
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
01:00
Rep Ireland 1-5 Portugal  
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
00:00
Ghana 4-0 Korea Rep  
Sunday, 08 June 2014
20:00
France 8-0 Jamaica Report
19:30
San Marino 0-3 Albania  
19:00
Trin & Tob 0-2 Iran  
Saturday, 07 June 2014
23:00
USA 2-1 Nigeria Report

Footer 365

England boss Roy Hodgson sets his sights on winning Euro 2016

Roy Hodgson has put England's awful World Cup display behind him and has set his sights on winning Euro 2016.

Malky Mackay apologises for offensive texts while Cardiff manager

Malky Mackay has issued an official apology for sending offensive text messages during his time as Cardiff manager.

Dutch Eredivisie: Ajax v PSV preview

Ajax hope to steal a march on title rivals PSV when the two sides clash at the Amsterdam ArenA on Sunday, live on Sky.

Mail Box

More Fan Mail For Football365...

'Just p*ss off with your righteous indignation will you. W*nkers.' There's a lot of anger going around for what should have been a sleepy Friday afternoon at F365 Towers...

Man United: One Game To Save Season

They have one match to convince decent players that they are worth joining - over to you, Louis. We also have mails on Malky Mackay, Mario Balotelli and Tim...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property