Slovenia 2 Northern Ireland 0

Northern Ireland lost 2-0 to suffer their second defeat in three World Cup qualifiers after crumbling late in the Group Three game against Slovenia.

Goals from Milivoje Novakovic and substitute Zlatan Ljubijankic in the 84th and 85th minute did the damage.

It was a heartbreaking end to the match for the province who had shown good discipline until the last six minutes.

And a miserable night was capped in injury-time when influential defender Jonny Evans picked up a booking – the province’s fifth of the night – which means he will be suspended for Wednesday’s home match against San Marino.

The home fans screamed for a penalty in the 18th minute when Chris Baird bundled over Zlatko Dedic but Spanish referee Eduardo Gonzales allowed play to continue.

The province almost took the lead two minutes later when Kyle Lafferty showed good reactions to get on the end of a cross from Gareth McAuley only for his effort to finish the wrong side of the post.

It was a sign the side was growing in confidence in front of a partisan home crowd. Northern Ireland had appeared to take heart from the home draw against the Czech Republic last month and were playing with no little confidence.

The visitors kept their shape well at the start of the second half and looking disciplined at the back.

David Healy suddenly burst into life in the 58th minute and tried to chip the goalkeeper, only for his effort to go over the crossbar.

However, the visitors were rocked back on their heels in the space of a minute when Slovenia scored twice to seal the points. Novakovic made the breakthrough in the 84th minute and then substitute Ljubijankic added a second to leave the province heartbroken

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