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Slovenia 0-1 Northern Ireland: Match Report
Northern Ireland got off to a stunning start in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign by defeating World Cup finalists Slovenia 1-0 in Maribor.
Manchester United midfielder Corry Evans was the unlikely matchwinner, stepping off the bench to score in the 70th minute.
He marked his first competitive outing by getting on the end of a glorious cross from Craig Cathcart on his debut to sweep the ball home at the far post.
Slovenia were finding it hard to get going and Valter Birsa delivered the ball from the right in the 15th minute but it failed to trouble goalkeeper Maik Taylor and went wide.
Slovenia then almost made the breakthrough in the 21st minute when Birsa got on the end of a cross from Zlatan Ljubijankic, only for Cathcart to make a timely clearance.
Northern Ireland found themselves on the back foot in the 38th minute with Andraz Kirm whipping in a cross. Milivoje Novakovic peeled away from his marker but delivered a soft header from six yards into the arms of Taylor.
Birsa got enough power on his shot from inside the area but Cathcart was handily placed and deflected the ball to safety in the 49th minute. Back came Northern Ireland and David Healy stung the palms of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Northern Ireland were defending in numbers and Stephen Craigan then put his body on the line in the 64th minute to keep out a shot from Robert Koren.
Three minutes later Nigel Worthington made a double substitution with Kyle Lafferty and Evans coming on Healy and Grant McCann. The visitors then stunned Slovenia in the 70th minute with Evans, brother of Jonny, scoring at the far post - with virtually his first touch - following a glorious cross from Cathcart.
Birsa was thwarted by Taylor and then Ljubijankic found the sidenetting from an acute angle in the 81st minute as Slovenia tried in vain to muster and equaliser.
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