Irish Soccer's Most Memorable Moments, No 6: Houghton at Giant's Stadium, 1994
Ireland’s first win in a World Cup match against the then three-time World Champions Italy and the goal that won it at number six in our countdown.
It was our opening match of US 1994; the rumours were that the ex-pat Italian denizens of New York would outnumber the Paddies in Giant Stadiums for the Ireland-Italy match.
The expectations were that Italy led by Signori and Baggio, the Messi and Ronaldo of their day, would trounce Ireland.
Rumours and expectations were both proved wrong.
The Irish overtook the stadium and Ireland marshalled by Paul McGrath at the back and a tireless Roy Keane in midfield won the tie 1-Nil.
The winner came from Ray Houghton, a man who had a knack of scoring great goals for Ireland. This time he lofted it over Gianluca Pagliuca in the Italian net in a masterful lob from thirty yards out, although there is a suspicion it came off his shin.
The immense scale of the achievement is underlined by the fact that Italy didn’t lose another match that tournament and only a penalty shoot-out against Brazil prevented them lifting the cup.
Hopefully Ireland can draw on this memory when they take on the Italians this summer.
We’re counting down the days to Ireland’s Euro 2012 opener against Croatia. Join us every day in the build-up to the tournament for another classic Irish soccer memory.
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