Slovenia stayed in contention for a place at the 2012 European Championship on Tuesday with a 0-0 draw at Northern Ireland.
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Northern Ireland needed victory after losing to Serbia on Friday but Slovenia had the better chances and moved to eight points in Group C, the same as Serbia and five behind leader Italy.
The group winner and the best of the runners-up in each of the nine pools will advance to next year’s tournament in Ukraine and Poland, with the other second-place sides entering playoffs for another four spots.
Josip Ilicic went close in the sixth minute with a 25-meter (yard) shot and Marko Suler did the same moments later, although goalkeeper Lee Camp blocked both.
Northern Ireland is in fifth place after a third draw from five matches, but has lost just once and is only two points behind Serbia and Slovenia – having played one game fewer than both.
”If we can win that game in hand, that will be massive,” Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington said. ”We are still in it.”
Northern Ireland: Lee Camp, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley, Stephen Craigan, Chris Baird, Corry Evans, (Liam Boyce, 90), Sammy Clingan, Warren Feeney (Pat McCourt, 82), Chris Brunt, Grant McCann (Josh McQuoid, 72).
Slovenia: Samir Handanovic, Miso Brecko, Marko Suler, Robert Koren, Valter Birsa, Milivoje Novakovic (Zlatko Dedic, 84), Bojan Jokic, Armin Bacinovic (Goran Sukalo, 90), Andraz Kirm, Josip Ilicic (Zlatan Ljubijankic, 29), Matej Mavric-Rozic.