Euro 2012 qual. - Evans earns Northern Ireland win

Eurosport - Fri, 03 Sep 20:53:00 2010

Young substitute Corry Evans was the match-winner for Northern Ireland as their resolute defending ensured a superb 1-0 victory over Slovenia in Maribor.

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In a game where the away side's backline were put under immense pressure, Nigel Worthington pulled off a stroke of tactical genius bringing on Jonny Evans' younger brother to steal the points.

In a rare attack, Craig Cathcart managed to get in down the left and put in a tantalising ball across the Slovenian six-yard box, which Evans junior eagerly tucked away to the delight of the away support.

Evans may have taken the headlines, but it was the Northern Ireland rearguard who were the real heroes as they denied and frustrated the Slovenia attack time and time again.

Cathcart, slotting in at left-back, looked nervy at first but grew in stature along with the rest of the backline as they blocked, deflected and cleared their way to victory.

Slovenian strike duo Zlatan Ljubijankic and Milivoje Novakovic came close on a number of occasions, with the distinctly left-footed Valter Birsa also causing problems.

In an uneventful first half, Worthington's men started well before going into their shells, with Ljubijankic particularly wasteful in front of Maik Taylor's goal.

The second half saw an onslaught on the Northern Ireland goal from Matjaz Kez' men, with multiple corners and crosses hacked away by Aaron Hughes and captain Stephen Craigan, making his 50th apperance.

Worthington finally decided to change things throwing on Evans and Kyle Lafferty, and it paid instant dividends as the Manchester United youngster nipped in round Slovenia's startled defence to break the deadlock with 20 minutes to play.

Slovenia did their best to find an equaliser, knocking continually on the door, with recent Hull City signing Robert Koren blazing over from inside the area.

But Worthington's men managed to withstand the pressure and four nervy minutes of stoppage time - including a late scare from substitute Tim Matavz - to hold on for a precious three points.

Tom Barclay / Eurosport

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