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Slovenia 2-0 Northern Ireland

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Action from Northern Ireland's 2-0 defeat by Slovenia in a World Cup qualifying match.

Slovenia struck twice in the final 10 minutes to dent Northern Ireland's chances of making the 2010 World Cup.

Kyle Lafferty volleyed wide for the visitors in a scrappy first half and the striker was denied by keeper Samir Handanovic's 64th-minute block.

Jonny Evans squandered another good chance as NI pressed before Slovenia went ahead through Milivoje Novakovic's close-range finish on 84 minutes.

Zlatan Ljubijankic slotted past Maik Taylor seconds later to seal the win.

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington made four changes for the game with Steven Davis, Lafferty, Gareth McAuley and Grant McCann returning to the line-up.

Mirnes Sisic fired wide after five minutes, while Slovenia also had a penalty appeal turned down when Chris Baird appeared to push Zlatki Dedic to the floor.

In one of the few clear openings of the first half Lafferty volleyed wide on the turn from McAuley's cross after 20 minutes.

Midway through the first half Davis was booked for a foul on Andrej Komac and referee Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez had his yellow card out soon afterwards to caution Lafferty and Bostjan Cesar after an off-the-ball incident at a free-kick.

Davis dragged a shot wide seconds later with Lafferty just failing to get a touch to redirect the ball goalwards.

606: DEBATE

Lafferty sent a weak header well wide just before the break but the Rangers striker was proving a handful for the Slovenia defence.

David Healy finally made an impact on 58 minutes with the Sunderland forward sending his curling shot just over.

Lafferty wasted an excellent chance four minutes later, pouncing on a poor pass and sprinting clear but his underhit shot was blocked by the advancing Samir Handanovic.

Sisic was booked for a late challenge on Baird although the NI player was surprisingly shown a yellow card for diving.

The visitors squandered another clear opportunity from a 78th minute free-kick when Evans got ahead of his marker but from eight yards out he scooped the ball high into the air and the Slovenians cleared.

Slovenia had produced virtually nothing in attack but then scored twice in a minute to claim the three points.

Novakovic connected with an inswinging cross to finish at the back post and then substitute Ljubijankic outmuscled Evans before sliding the beyond Taylor and into the net.

Evans was booked in injury-time for a late challenge and the Manchester United player is now suspended for Wednesday's qualifier against San Marino in Belfast.

The defeat leaves N Ireland with just one point from their three qualifiers and lying fifth in Group Three.


Slovenia: Handanovic, Brecko, Komac, Suler, Cesar, Sisic, Koren, Novakovic, Dedic (Ljubijankic 68), Kirm (Matic 90), Ilic.
Subs Not Used: Seliga, Morec, Jokic, Zlogar.

Booked: Cesar, Sisic, Komac, Kirm.

Goals: Novakovic 84, Ljubijankic 85.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, McAuley, McCartney, Evans, Baird, Gillespie, Davis, Healy, Lafferty, McCann (McGivern 73), Hughes.
Subs Not Used: Mannus, O'Connor, Feeney, Shiels, Paterson, Thompson.

Booked: Davis, Lafferty, Baird, McCartney, Evans.

Att: 12,385

Referee: Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez (Spain)


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Slovenia's Zlatan Ljubijankic 9.00 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.



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see also
Worthington praises defeated team
11 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Pick your N Ireland XI
06 Jun 07 |  Internationals
N Ireland 0-0 Czech Republic
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Slovakia 2-1 N Ireland
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals


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