On-loan Dundee United striker Warren Feeney sent Belfast into raptures as he grabbed the winner in the 73rd minute in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier at Windsor Park. It means Northern Ireland remarkably remain top of Group 3 and still in with a shout of making it to the finals in 16 months time.
Feeney has now taken over the mantle from David Healy and this was his second successive goal after he made the breakthrough against Poland at the weekend. In the process, Northern Ireland have won four successive qualifiers for the first time in their history.
After their splendid victory against Poland, Northern Ireland found it a struggle in the first half. But that barren spell was soon forgotten thanks to Feeney's goal.
Slovenia almost took the lead in the tenth minute but goalkeeper Maik Taylor did well to parry Miso Brecko's close range effort after he was released inside the area by Bostjan Cesar. Taylor may be 37 but the Birmingham shot-stopper proved he is as sharp as ever with that block. Worthington was then forced to make a change six minutes later when McAuley limped off and was replaced by Chris Baird.
Slovenia, who chalked up a 2-0 victory earlier in the campaign, were looking far more assured at this stage than Poland. Northern Ireland again found themselves on the back foot in the 22nd minute when Andrej Komac swung in a corner, only for skipper Aaron Hughes to stay alert and make the clearance.
They responded in the 30th minute when Healy seized on a half chance, only to spoon his effort over the bar. Healy snatched at it, perhaps in his desperation to add to his tally of one goal in the campaign. It has been a poor return for the Sunderland striker after his record 13-goal haul in the UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying campaign. Baird and Healy then both went to ground quickly but Israeli referee Alon Yefet allowed play to continue.
Northern Ireland made a bright start to the second half with Healy whipping in a cross that tested the goalkeeper. Then, in the 56th minute, Damien Johnson headed over the bar at the back post following a corner from McCann. The game was becoming scrappy with neither goalkeeper really being tested.
However that did not prevent the partisan crowd from giving their side tremendous vocal backing. Slovenia almost went ahead in the 67th minute when skipper Robert Koren raced forward and cracked in a shot from 25 yards that came back off the bar. The West Brom midfielder was left shaking his head in frustration at seeing Northern Ireland escape.
Northern Ireland made the breakthrough in the 73rd minute with Feeney finding the target. He glanced a header beyond the goalkeeper after a good build up involving Sammy Clingan and Johnson to prompt another night of celebrations in the old town.