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Northern Ireland 1-0 Slovenia: Green and White Army set record with 10 games unbeaten

Published 28/03/2016

Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team mates Oliver Norwood and Jonathan Evans during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team mates Oliver Norwood and Jonathan Evans during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis has a shot on goal ahead of Slovenia's Samardzic Miral during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 28: Roy Carroll of Northern Ireland saves a penalty from Novakovic Milivoje of Slovenia during the international friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at Windsor Park on March 28, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Slovenia's Cesar Bostjan (2nd from left) attempt to separate Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward and Slovenia's Samardzic Miral during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans during the 14th minute stand up and applaud in respect of Johan Cruyff who died recently during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans observe a minutes silent in respect to Sean McGrotty, 49, his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, 8, his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 59, and Ms Daniels' daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, who was 14 who died in Buncrana, Co. Donegal before an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Northern Ireland fans during the 14th minute stand up and applaud in respect of Johan Cruyff who died recently during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Stephen Davis leads out Northern Ireland before an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team mates during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 28: Conor Washington (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at Windsor Park on March 28, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Stephen Davis (left) reacts to a challenge from Slovenia's Jokic Bojan during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 28: Jamie Ward (R) of Northern Ireland and Krhin Rene (L) of Slovenia during the international friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at Windsor Park on March 28, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 28: Jamie Ward (L) of Northern Ireland and Krhin Rene (R) of Slovenia during the international friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at Windsor Park on March 28, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's defender Paddy McNair (R) vies with Slovenia's midfielder Benjamin Verbic during the international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast on March 28, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's defender Paddy McNair (R) vies with Slovenia's midfielder Benjamin Verbic during the international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast on March 28, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Stephen Davis (left) and Jonathan Evans (right) and Slovenia's Ilicic Josip (centre) battle for the ball during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands show their support during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood (left) and Slovenia's Ilicic Josip battle for the ball during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Patrick McNair (left) jumps to head the ball during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland players line up with mascots to sing their country's national Anthem prior to kick off during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill stands at the touchline during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's dressing room which they will use for the first time before Monday night's International Friendly against Slovenia at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry / Press Eye
Northern Ireland players during Sundays training session ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry Press Eye
Northern Ireland's dressing room which they will use for the first time before Monday night's International Friendly against Slovenia at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry / Press Eye
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis with Kyle Lafferty during Sundays training session at the National Stadium ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry

Conor Washington's first Northern Ireland goal helped them set a new record of 10 games unbeaten as they defeated Slovenia 1-0 in Belfast on Monday.

Michael O'Neill's class of 2016 eclipsed the nine-match streak Billy Bingham's team managed when they reached the 1986 World Cup and it was Kent-born Washington, who had only been to the country once before, that was the match-winner with a first-half goal.

Goalkeeper Roy Carroll, 38, then saved a second-half penalty from Milivoje Novakovic as the Northern Irish bandwagon carried on rolling ahead of their participation in Euro 2016 this summer.

Four minutes later Washington came off to a rapturous reception as O'Neill assessed his options from the bench by making six substitutions before the end.

Two of those replacements nearly combined for a second, Josh Magennis almost turning in Lafferty's cross from the right after Oblak had failed to snuff out the danger at the near post.

Slovenia pushed for an equaliser as Blaz Vrhovec smashed one attempt over the crossbar before Carroll was called into action again in the closing stages.

Valter Birsa's effort would have crept into the corner had the ex-Manchester United man not pushed it behind for a corner to preserve both his clean sheet and Northern Ireland's remarkable run.

At the final whistle the PA announcer informed the crowd that they had set a new record of 10 games unbeaten, with friendlies against Belarus and Slovakia to come before Poland, Ukraine and Germany await in France.

Preview and match build-up

Northern Ireland are seeking to make more history in Belfast on Monday night when Slovenia visit as part of their Euro 2016 preparations.

We look at the talking points as the hosts bid to extend their unbeaten streak to 10 games.

CAN NORTHERN IRELAND MAKE HISTORY?

Having reached their first major international tournament for 30 years, the class of 2016 have another landmark in their crosshairs. The 1-1 draw with Wales on Thursday equalled the nine-game unbeaten streak Billy Bingham's side managed in 1985-86 en route to the World Cup in Mexico. Anything but defeat on Monday will see them set a new benchmark.

WILL MICHAEL O'NEILL PLAY 3-5-2 AGAIN?

Manager Michael O'Neill is prepared to continue alternating formations in the build-up to France, despite his team looking far more comfortable in a 4-3-3 in the second half against Wales. Three at the back allows O'Neill to include Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart and Gareth McAuley, but are they more effective with two wider players off spearhead Kyle Lafferty?

CAN CONOR WASHINGTON FURTHER HIS EURO 2016 CLAIM?

Washington's Northern Ireland debut lasted just 45 minutes before he was sacrificed as part of the system change in Cardiff. This is the penultimate friendly before O'Neill confirms who he will be taking to the Euros so Washington, a 23-year-old striker born in Kent, will be desperate to prove his worth if given the chance alongside Lafferty.

WILL THERE BE WHOLESALE CHANGES?

With the incentive of breaking the all-time record for unbeaten games, O'Neill may consider naming as strong a team as possible at Windsor Park. That could be bad news for those on the fringes of the team, who are running out of time to prove they are worthy of a starting spot against Poland in their Euro 2016 opener on June 12.

CAN THE HOSTS FIND A WAY PAST JAN OBLAK?

Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic retired after Slovenia failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and his place in the team has been taken by Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak. The 23-year-old is the stand-out name in Srecko Katanec's squad and could ensure it is a frustrating evening for Lafferty, Washington and company.

 

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