VIDEO: 25 years to the day since John Aldridge sent Ireland to Italia '90
This day 25 years ago, Ireland clinched qualification for Italia '90 after John Aldridge bagged a brace against Malta in Valletta.
Ireland secured their place at the 1990 World Cup on November 15th 1989 after defeating Malta 2-0 in a bizarrely-timed afternoon qualifier. Jack Charlton's side had put themselves on the brink of their first ever World Cup tournament after a four-match winning streak at Lansdowne Road.
The first goal arrived courtesy of Ray Houghton's corner and a David O'Leary flick-on that Aldridge nodded in at the back post. It was only the Liverpool striker's second international goal.
The match was sealed after 68 minutes when Ronnie Whelan sent Andy Townsend clear through on goal only for the Norwich midfielder to be felled in (or close to) the box.
Spot-kick arguments aside, Aldridge was brimming with confidence and cracked out his usual stuttering run-up to leave the Maltese goalkeeper glued to his line and livid with the referee. Ireland still needed Spain to defeat Hungary to secure their World Cup spot. The Spaniards did not disappoint as they doled out a 4-0 hammering. 'Emerald delight,' declared RTE commentator George Hamilton as the clock wound down.
'A bit of an anxious one,' admitted Charlton to Jimmy Magee after the match, 'but we got it out of the way and won fairly comfortably... We qualified to go to Italy and we've done it ourselves.'