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European Championship Qualifying

Petrol Arena (ATT 11,582) 3rd September 2010 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: P Balaj

Slovenia Slovenia vs Northern Ireland N Ireland


N Ireland 1

C Evans (70)

Live Commentary

Last Updated at 9:38 pm, September 3rd 2010

  1. Congratulations to Northern Ireland tonight, a marvellous rear-guard action with a dose of boldness that earned the three points. That's it for tonight - I hope you enjoyed the match, make sure you stick around for match report and reaction. Thanks for joining me this evening. Good night.

  2. The Northern Ireland fans are going wild behind that far goal - they're rightly celebrating a magnificent win in Slovenia. That's the first game in seven that they've scored and what a time to do it - Northern Ireland are third in the group after the first match. Next up? Italy in October.

  3. 90+4

    Full time! Northern Ireland have done it! 1-0 Northern Ireland!

  4. 90+3

    Slovenia battering away now, lots of high balls into the area. Cesar is lurking and hooks a ball over the bar - that was very close.

  5. 90+2

    Gorman and Davies combine to work the ball deep into Slovenia's half, not long left to hold on now for Worthington's men.

  6. 90+1

    Tension here now as a bobbly, bouncing ball evades the visitors defence until Cathcart finally hacks it clear. Nervy times. Three left.

  7. 90+

    Bad news if your a Northern Ireland supporter - four minutes added on! Torture!

  8. 90

    Two guesses which Northern Ireland defender headed that corner away...Mr Craigan, you've earned your wages tonight.

  9. 89

    Radosavljevic's shot is blocked by Craigan as the midfielder looked set to slot it into the net. More great defending from the skipper on his 50th Northern Ireland appearance.

  10. 88

    And a final swop for Northern Ireland - Gorman comes on in place of the ineffective Brunt.

  11. 87

    Change here for Slovenia, final throw of the dice. Ljubijankic is going off - Matavz is on in his place.

  12. 85

    Brave keeping from Taylor, who has just come quickly off his line to thwart Ljubijankic.

  13. 84

    Northern Ireland prearing another change.

  14. 84

    Lafferty has been booked. I have no idea why.

  15. 83

    Slovenia fans showing their frustration in these closing stages, jeering as Northern Ireland make a rar forway foward.

  16. 81

    Half the ground is celebrating because Slovenia think Ljubijankic's piledriver into the side netting has gone between the posts. It hasn't, and Northern Ireland continue to defend.

  17. 80

    Great pressure from Northern Ireland forces Slovenia into temporary retreat.

  18. 78

    Slovenia are as they were - bossing the affair. A shot from Dedic this time goes awfully close on the half-volley.

  19. 76

    Taylor has just saved Northern Ireland, making a smart save with his feet from IIlic's shot.

  20. 75

    Hughes with another towering header to power away another cross. Great defending this.

  21. 74

    Double change for Slovenia. Novakovic and Kirk off, Ilic, Dedic on.

  22. 73

    A golf bugee style device has come on to the aid of McAuley, whose taken a nasty blow to the face from Novakovic's elbow.

  23. 72

    Kirm puts another dangerous ball in but Northern Ireland somehow survive. They're holding on again.

  24. 71

    Not Cathcart's finest moment just there after his assist - he's just tried to take a throw in, but couldn't make it into play.

  25. 70

    Unbelievable scenes here, Northern Ireland have gone in-front. Cathcart wriggles free of his man down the left and advances into the box - he passes it across the six yard box and Evans, who has just come on, is on hand to tap home at back post. 1-0 Northern Ireland.

  26. 69


  27. 68

    Brunt contributes, whipping over a dangerous cross but no-one can get on the end of it. Better from Northern Ireland, Lafferty and Evans involved.

  28. 67

    Change here - Healy limps from the field, looks like a calf problem. Lafferty comes on in his place. McCann also goes off in place of Evans.

  29. 65

    Taylor shows a great pair of hands to claim the corner.

  30. 64

    Ljubijankic beats Hughes but Craigan is on hand to turn his dangerous cross behind for a corner.

  31. 63

    All Slovenia here, how they've not scored is beyond this writer at least. Mavric's turn to shoot wide unmarked at the back post.

  32. 62

    Free-kick against Cathcart. Corry Evans is warming up on the touchline.

  33. 61

    Kirm is free at the back post and he drills a shot goal ward - but Baird is there to throw his body in the way and preserve the scoreline.

  34. 60

    An hour gone and Northern Ireland seem content to sit back behind the ball.

  35. 59

    Healy is back to attacking duties as he drives a shot at Handanovic, which the keeper smothers.

  36. 58

    Healy and Cesar trying to get each other sent off. Shameful.

  37. 57

    McAuley has just put in a commanding defensive header to get above Novakovic, heroic stuff.

  38. 56

    Ljubijankic's cross is deflected behind by Hughes, who prevented it from going on target there.

  39. 55

    McAuley wins a header at the far post and his knock down finds Healy. The striker tries turning and shooting but it's blocked. Team mates not happy he didn't pass there.

  40. 54

    Baird is down in a heap and Slovenia sportingly put the ball out of play, despite having it in the final third.

  41. 53

    Davis doesn't clear his lines properly and Slovenia have a corner.

  42. 52

    Birsa is afforded acres out wide on the right, but his cross is turned away by Craigan's knee. Worry that - the space suddenly opened up.

  43. 51

    Slovenia piling on the pressure in these early stages, Northern Ireland are struggling to get their foot on the ball.

  44. 50

    Nice work from Kirm who nods on for Ljubijanki, but Craigan is there to make a smart tackle out wide on the left.

  45. 49

    Birsa should have scored there - Hughes slipped and the balls runs to the Slovenia winger, but his shot is turned behind by the slighest of margins by Cathcart.

  46. 48

    Birsa whips it goalwards, left-footed, but Taylor is a pair of safe hands and he clutches onto the powerful effort.

  47. 47

    Brunt gets booked - his first contribution of the night, that for tripping Kirm. Slovenia free-kick.

  48. 46

    Baird gives away a free-kick for a foul on Koren. Birsa sends it over but Feeney heads clear.

  49. 45

    Here we go then, Northern Ireland kicking us off.

  50. 45

    Teams are back out for the second period.

  51. 45+1

    That's half time - and an ironic cheer goes up from the Northern Ireland, more out of relief I suspect. 0-0, though, and we have 15 minutes breather. Any thoughts?

  52. 45+1

    Slovenia still pressing in this final minute of the half.

  53. 45+1

    One minute added time.

  54. 45

    Replay shows Nigel Worthington just aged five years watching that chance. Hairy moments indeed.

  55. 44

    Northern Ireland have been afford a big let off, Kirm wriggles free at the byline and makes advances toward Taylor's goal. He somehow prods the ball past a gaggle of defenders, but no-one is following up to tap home with the keeper grounded.

  56. 43

    Craigan whacks the ball into touch, under no pressure. Time for cool heads, here.

  57. 42

    Poor delivery this time from McCann, who's corner goes straight to the near-post. Handanovic fields and Slovenia attack with Ljubijankic firing a shot past Taylor but wide of the post. Danger there - Slovenia broke very quickly.

  58. 41

    Northern Ireland corner, Craigan's ball into the channel forcing Cesar into the clearance.

  59. 39

    Northern Ireland will want to get to half-time goalless, then build from there. Better still, if they could snatch a goal. Slovenia are on top at the moment though and Worthington's men have struggled to get out of their own half for a good 10 minute spell.

  60. 37

    Better from Slovenia as Novakovic heads goalward from Kirm's cross, but Taylor is equal to it. SIgn of the danger the hosts can pose when they're allowed to knock the ball around midfield.

  61. 35

    Birsa has another go from 30-odd yards but it sails over. Taylor yells at his defence to close down quicker.

  62. 34

    Birsa tries a shot from distance, but Baird and Davis combine to snuff out the threat of the effort as it bounces through to the hands of Taylor.

  63. 33

    Davis trips Ljubijankic but the ref feels the Slovenia striker went down too easily. Goal kick.

  64. 32

    Game has gone into a bit of a lull, not much goal mouth action - or anything else - to report at the moment...

  65. 30

    Slovenia trying to force the issue but they're facing some stiff resistence tonight. Nigel Worthington has his team well-drilled.

  66. 28

    Brunt hasn't seen much of the ball tonight, he needs to get more involved to have an impact for his side.

  67. 26

    Healey has just chipped a shot on target. Doesn't cause too much concern for Handanovic but it's the first of the night.

  68. 25

    Healey has just been booked for kicking Jokic - he was trying an overhead kick but the ref doesn't like it and the striker gets a caution.

  69. 23

    Cathcart earning his stripes again with a superb challenge on Birsa.

  70. 22

    Slovenia controlling most of the possession now.

  71. 21

    Cathcart has just saved his side with a goal-line tackle on Birsa to prevent the midfielder from tapping the ball home from close range. Great work from the Blackpool man.

  72. 20

    Meanwhile, Healy and Feeney have a simple brief - run, harry and hassle.

  73. 19

    Northern Ireland sticking to their defensive duties when they don't have the ball - ten men opposing the white shirts of Slovenia.

  74. 18

    Feeney gets in behind the defence but is ruled offside.

  75. 17

    Baird lashes a shot wide from the edge of the box, a poor effort in the end as it trickles out for a goal kick but promising pressure from the away side.

  76. 16

    Cesar goes down in a heap under a challenge from Feeney. He realises he free-kick has been awarded and gets straight back up!

  77. 15

    Another cross flashes wide of Taylor's goal. Northern Ireland living a bit dangerously.

  78. 14

    So close for Slovenia, the free-kick, in-swinging from Koren finds Kirm but he can't connect properly to the header and it goes through to Taylor. He ran into the box completely unmarked, which will be a worry for boss Worthington.

  79. 13

    Baird is ticked off for giving away two fouls in kick succession, he's lucky to escape a booking for kicking at Radosavljevic.

  80. 12

    Handanovic flaps at it as Feeney tries an over-head kick, but to no avail. Dangerous moments here for the hosts, they're struggling to deal with McCann's set-pieces.

  81. 11

    Lot of high balls up to Healey, not his cup of tea to feed off. He goes down in the box under a challenge from Cesar but the ref isn't interested. They win another corner anyway.

  82. 10

    Slovenia's turn to threaten from a set-piece, but Northern Ireland see off the danger. Referee incorrectly awards a goal-kick.

  83. 9

    Northern Ireland flood the six yard box to surround the keeper. McAuley tries reaching a wicked delivery from McCann, but referee Pavel Balaj spots a foul.

  84. 8

    Feeney tussles for the ball with Jokic and wins a corner.

  85. 7

    Cathcart gets nutmegged by Birsa but his cross is cut out by Craigan. The Blackpool defender is playing out of position at left back tonight, in for the injured Jonny Evans.

  86. 6

    Slovenia fans making an intimidating atmosphere, jeering every touch made by the Northern Ireland.

  87. 5

    McCann swings it over but Cesar heads away.

  88. 4

    McCann strikes it and it takes a deflection to win a corner.

  89. 3

    Early free-kick for Northern Ireland, nasty tackle from Koren on Catchart. McCann stands over it.

  90. 3

    Very narrow and crowded in the middle of the park. The visitors looked to get the ball down and spread it wide, but Slovenia flood men behind the ball to prevent McCann from fielding the ball wide.

  91. 2

    Hairy moment there at the back for Slovenia. Jokic chests the ball back to Handanovic but Feeney nearly intercepts to poke the ball home. Luckily for Slovenia, the striker doesn't quite reach and the keeper claims.

  92. 1

    Ball been sent up-field by both sides, scruffy, looking to settle.

  93. Here we go then, Slovenia kick us off.

  94. Get on if you fancy a punt on tonight's match. Slovenia are favourites at 4/7, Northern Ireland are offered at 5/1 to take the win. The draw is 9/4.

  95. Teams are singing their respective national anthems, kick-off is fast approaching.

  96. Another man who is 50-up for his country is Northern Ireland's Stephen Craigan, the Motherwell defender. Atmosphere is building in the Petrol Arena - around a 1000 fans have made the trip over from Northern Ireland.

  97. For Slovenia, Robert Koren makes his 50th appearance. The Hull midfielder is the captain of his national side and he will be one to watch after starring during their World Cup exploits. Slovenia's last competitive game was their 1-0 defeat to England.

  98. Manager Nigel Worthington suffered a blow in the hours leading up to clash with Jonny Evans ruled out because of a groin injury. With Evans absent, his former Old Trafford team-mate Craig Cathcart of Blackpool was handed a debut facing the surprise World Cup qualifier. Worthington opted to go with record scorer David Healy and Warren Feeney up front in an attempt to end a run of seven matches without a goal. Kyle Lafferty was on the bench as was 17-year-old schoolboy Johnny Gorman. Northern Ireland lost 2-0 to Slovenia two years ago on the way to the hosts booking a place in South Africa.

  99. Here are the line-ups for tonight's match:

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

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

  102. Good evening and welcome to tonight's commentary of Northern Ireland's clash with Slovenia. These two teams are battling for a place at the European Championships in 2012 and can gain an upper-hand in their bid by taking three points tonight. We're here to give you minute-by-minute up-dates of all the action from the Petrol Arena, but you can also get involved by sending me your thoughts and predictions throughout the evening. I'd love to know what you think so please don't hesitate to drop me a line on: Three points for Nigel Worthington's Northern Ireland would resemble a real upset, so what are the chances of it happening here in Eastern Europe? We'll soon find out. Keep tuned for the starting line-ups. Enjoy the match.

  103. Live updates will appear here from 1945 BST....


  • European Championship Qualifying

    Fri 3rd Sep - Group B
    Fri 3rd Sep - Group A
    Fri 3rd Sep - Group E
    Fri 3rd Sep - Group C
    Fri 3rd Sep - Group G
    Fri 3rd Sep - Group F
    Fri 3rd Sep - Group D
    Fri 3rd Sep - Group I
    • Lithuania
      0 - 0
    • Liechtenstein
      0 - 4
    Fri 3rd Sep - Group H


European Championship Qualifying Group A

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Czech Republic 5 13
2 Iceland 5 12
3 Netherlands 5 7
4 Turkey 5 5
5 Latvia 5 3
6 Kazakhstan 5 1

European Championship Qualifying Group B

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 5 11
2 Wales 5 11
3 Israel 5 9
4 Cyprus 5 6
5 Bosnia and Herzegovina 5 5
6 Andorra 5 0

European Championship Qualifying Group C

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Slovakia 5 15
2 Spain 5 12
3 Ukraine 5 9
4 Belarus 5 4
5 Macedonia 5 3
6 Luxembourg 5 1

European Championship Qualifying Group D

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Poland 5 11
2 Germany 5 10
3 Scotland 5 10
4 Republic of Ireland 5 8
5 Georgia 5 3
6 Gibraltar 5 0

European Championship Qualifying Group E

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 5 15
2 Slovenia 5 9
3 Switzerland 5 9
4 Lithuania 5 6
5 Estonia 5 4
6 San Marino 5 1

European Championship Qualifying Group F

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Romania 5 13
2 Northern Ireland 5 12
3 Hungary 5 8
4 Finland 5 4
5 Faroe Islands 5 3
6 Greece 5 2

European Championship Qualifying Group G

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Austria 5 13
2 Sweden 5 9
3 Russia 5 8
4 Montenegro 5 5
5 Liechtenstein 5 4
6 Moldova 5 1

European Championship Qualifying Group H

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Croatia 5 13
2 Italy 5 11
3 Norway 5 9
4 Bulgaria 5 5
5 Azerbaijan 5 3
6 Malta 5 1

European Championship Qualifying Group I

European Championship Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Portugal 4 9
2 Denmark 4 7
3 Albania 4 7
4 Serbia 4 1
5 Armenia 4 1