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Page last updated at 20:42 GMT, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:42 UK

Slovenia 0-1 Northern Ireland

Corry Evans slots in the only goal in the Maribor qualifier
Corry Evans slots in the only goal in the Maribor qualifier

Substitute Corry Evans scored with his first touch as Northern Ireland made a fine start to the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Slovenia squandered a host of chances in the first half with Milivoje Novakovic and Zlatan Ljubijankic posing a potent attacking threat.

The hosts dominated after the break but the visitors netted in a rare attack as Evans turned in Craig Cathcart's low cross at the backpost on 70 minutes.

Maik Taylor saved from Josip Ilicic as Northern Ireland held on for the win.

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington saw his men show more urgency than their hosts in the early stages, hustling and quickly closing down the Slovenians.

Scorer Corry Evans and debutant Craig Cathcart on Northern Ireland's 1-0 win in Slovenia

But they created nothing of note with Grant McCann firing his 25-yard free-kick against a defender in the fifth minute.

Slovenia were the first to threaten on 13 minutes as striker Novakovic failed to connect with Andraz Kirm's inswinging free-kick.

Chris Baird dragged his shot wide before debutant Craig Cathcart put in a last-ditch tackle to deflect Ljubijankic's effort over the bar.

David Healy was harshly booked as he struck a defender instead of the ball with an attempted overhead kick, two minutes before his weak curling shot was easily saved by Samir Handanovic.

Slovenia grew more dangerous as the half progressed and Novakovic squandered another opportunity, heading straight at Taylor from Kirm's cross.

Ljubijankic broke free on the right only to blast wide while there was no-one to turn Kirm's dangerous ball across the goalmouth into the net just before the break.

Slovenia assumed complete control on the restart but their pressure failed to produce a deserved goal.


Valler Birsa's deflected volley flew just wide after 49 minutes as they mounted attack after attack.

Changes were needed and Worthington brought Kyle Lafferty and Evans on for Healy and McCann after 67 minutes.

The introduction of Evans, who was making his competitive debut, proved to be an inspired substitution as the visitor's took a surprise lead with their first meaningful attack three minutes later.

Cathcart supplied a low cross to the far post and the young Manchester United midfielder sneaked ahead of his marker to slot in from two yards.

It was a case of hanging on as Slovenia searched for an equaliser, with Taylor saving from Ilicic before Ljubijankic blasted into the side-netting.

Northern Ireland players and fans celebrated at the final whistle in what was an unlikely success on the road and the first win in 11 games.

Slovenia: S Handanovic, Brecko, Cesar, Jokic, Mavric, Birsa, Radosavljevic, Koren, Kirm, Novakovic, Ljubijankic. Subs: J Handanovic, Suler, Ilic, Dedic, Ilicic, Stevanovic, Matavz.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, McAuley, Cathcart, Craigan, Baird, Davis, McCann, Hughes, Brunt, Healy, Feeney. Subs: Tuffey, Clingan, Corry Evans, Lafferty, Paterson, Patterson, Gorman.

Referee: Pavel Balaj (Romania)

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