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Page last updated at 20:41 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 21:41 UK

N Ireland 1-0 Slovenia

Warren Feeney heads in the winner for Northern Ireland in Belfast
Warren Feeney heads in the winner for Northern Ireland in Belfast

By Alvin McCaig

Northern Ireland remain top of their World Cup qualifying group thanks to Warren Feeney's winner at Windsor Park.

Slovenia were in control in the first half with Miso Brecko and Milivoje Novakovic going close for the visitors.

The home side improved after the break but Slovenia remained dangerous and Robert Koren struck the crossbar.

Feeney scored the only goal on 73 minutes with a glancing header into the bottom corner while Novakovic sliced over a late chance.

Northern Ireland failed to produce the storming start which blew away Poland four days earlier.

Slovenia's slick football gave them the edge from the start and they created the only good opening of the half after 10 minutes.

After another fine move Brecko just had Maik Taylor to beat but his shot deflected off the the Birmingham City keeper and the ball drifted just over.


The home side were forced into a substitution six minutes later when Chris Baird replaced full-back Gareth McAuley, who suffered a hamstring injury.

Northern Ireland offered virtually nothing in attack - David Healy volleyed well over with a rare opportunity.

Slovenia went close on the stroke of half-time when Novakovic's free-kick clipped off Chris Baird and over the bar.

George McCartney and Jonny Evans were booked in the first half while Zlatko Dedic was cautioned for diving.

McCartney had picked up a calf injury and was replaced at half-time by Ryan McGivern.

There was more urgency from Northern Ireland on the restart and they created their first clear opportunity on 57 minutes.

Grant McCann's corner found the unmarked Damien Johnson but the midfielder headed over from 12 yards.

Warren Feeney celebrates his goal against Slovenia

Warren Feeney says Northern Ireland are capable of going all the way

Slovenia remained dangerous and West Brom midfielder Koren unleashed a fierce 25-yard shot after 67 minutes which smashed against the crossbar.

But it was Northern Ireland who made the breakthrough six minutes later with Dundee United striker Feeney sending his deft near-post header into the bottom corner from Sammy Clingan's cross.

David Healy was having a quiet night but he found space to hit a powerful shot which was blocked by keeper Jasmin Handanovic.

Novakovic burst through with five minutes left but blazed his shot over.

Baird was booked in the dying seconds for time wasting and is suspended for the next qualifier against Poland in September.

Northern Ireland stay a point clear of Slovakia, who defeated the Czech Republic 2-1.

Poland moved up to third after hammering minnows San Marino 10-0.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, McAuley, Hughes, Evans, McCartney, Johnson, Clingan, McCann, Davis, Healy, Feeney.

Slovenia: J Handanovic, Mavric, Filekovic, Cesar, Jokic, Kirm, Komac, Koren, Brecko, Dedic, Novakovic.

Referee: Alon Yefet (Israel)

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Northern Ireland's Maik Taylor (7.20 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 delight after NI win
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Evans wants repeat for N Ireland
30 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Fifa could act on Windsor missile
29 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Worthington targets more success
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Northern Ireland 3-2 Poland
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
International football as it happened
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Saturday's football photos
28 Mar 09 |  Football
Little admits shock at NI call-up
25 Mar 09 |  Internationals
N Ireland pair out of qualifiers
23 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Striker Ward in N Ireland call-up
12 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Worthington bemoans 'blip' in win
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
San Marino 0-3 Northern Ireland
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Gillespie omitted from NI squad
02 Feb 09 |  Internationals

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