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Football: NOW IT'S TOP O' THE MORNING; EURO 2008 CRUNCH NIGHT... Irish sitting pretty after Healy double NIreland 2 Sweden 1.

Byline: By Greig Thomas

DAVID HEALY continued his remarkable scoring run to fire Northern Ireland to the top of Group F on a memorable night at Windsor Park.

But despite this latest win in a remarkable run of successes, Irish boss Lawrie Sanchez begged players and fans to keep their feet on the ground.

He said: "It's great to be top of the group at the halfway stage.

"Thirteen points from six games is phenomenal but we'll have to get as many if not more from the next six."

Sanchez admitted he was in awe of Leeds hitman Healy's scoring form.

He said: "I've run out of words to describe David.He got two chances and scored both of them - that's world-class finishing.

"We've now shown we have great resilience and that has been the trademark of this campaign. But we won't get carried away."

Healy, who has nine out of 10 goals in Ireland's campaign, said: "We let everyone down in the first game against Iceland but we've improved leaps and bounds since then.

"As long as I can score goals and we can win games who knows what can happen come next year?"

Sweden drew first blood when they scored in the 27th minute with a swift counter-attack. Niclas Alexandersson cut the ball back and Johan Elmander turned Aaron Hughes and steered the ball home.

But Northern Ireland roared back and Healy equalised four minutes later.

It was his 28th goal in 56 international appearances - and a superb effort. There seemed little on but he ghosted between two defenders to send a volley past Andreas Isaksson.

Healy, who netted a hat-trick against Spain and at the weekend against Liechtenstein was watched by club boss Dennis Wise and the Irish fans taunted him over his refusal to give him the star striker's role at Elland Road.

But the Leeds chief must be wondering why Healy can't take his international form into the English Championship.

It was game on and Sweden looked rattled after that stunning strike which lit up the old stadium.

The Irish were working their socks off with Healy and Warren Feeney giving the Swedish defenders no time on the ball in a match which had a raw edge to it with the feel of a domestic cup game rather.

The home side were anxious to build on their impressive first-half show at the beginning of the second period and won a corner after 50 minutes but Grant McCann's effort was collected by Manchester City keeper Isaksson.

There was danger for the province three minutes later when Elmander beat Motherwell's Stephen Craigan and got to the byeline but Hughes read the cross well and made the clearance.

Then McCann blocked a header from Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the line as the Swedes pushed forward.

But Northern Ireland stunned the visitors by taking the lead in the 59th minute.

Again it was Healy who did the damage with a smart shot into the corner after Damien Johnson crossed from the right.

Sweden came close in the 68th minute when a wayward clearance by Craigan came back off the post.

And they nearly levelled twice in the space of two minutes. First Freddie Ljungberg fired over from close range in the 71st minute then Elmander shot wide from a good position.

Sweden continued to press but Northern Ireland held firm to seal a famous victory.


HITTING THE SWEDE SPOT: Northern Ireland hitman David Healy volleys home his side's first goal and, below, celebrates his strike
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 29, 2007
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