Northern Ireland U21s triumph over Spain in shock victory 11 months ago

Northern Ireland U21s triumph over Spain in shock victory

It should have been a routine win for Spain

Northern Ireland's under 21s shocked the world tonight, pulling off a surprise victory over Spain at the Estadio Carlos Belmonte in Albacete.

Nobody would have given Northern Ireland a chance in this fixture, given some of the talent in Spain's squad - their starting XI featured Valencia's highly rated midfielder Carlos Soler, Real Madrid's Borja Mayoral and Villarreal's exciting number 10, Pablo Fornals.

But the hosts were not intimidated by Spain's squad, as they took an early lead through Shayne Lavery in the fourth minute before doubling their advantage with a penalty from Liam Donnelly in the eighth minute.


They then held on to their lead, keeping the Spaniards until second half injury time, when Rafa Mir scored a consolation goal for the hosts.

Spain's senior team, meanwhile, beat World Cup semi-finalists Croatia 6-0 in the UEFA Nations League. Spain had all six goals in the bag before the 70th minute, at which point they took their foot off the gas. A stark contrast to the sort of performance we saw from those sides at the World Cup in Russia - and possibly an encouraging sign for England, who are in the same Nations League group.