Lazovic strike sinks NI
Northern Ireland put in a brave performance against Serbia before going down to a second-half Danko Lazovic goal.
Last Updated: 14/11/09 8:07pm
Northern Ireland put in a brave performance against World Cup bound Serbia before going down to a second-half Danko Lazovic goal.
Home keeper Maik Taylor had to produce a fantastic save to deny Zdravko Kuzmanovic's long-range effort on nine minutes, before Niall McGinn forced opposite keeper Bojan Isailovic into an equally fine stop at the other end.
Nigel Worthington's side then had a good penalty shout turned down after a cross from Jonny Evans hit Radosav Petrovic on the arm but the referee waved play on.
In the second period, Kyle Lafferty failed to connect at close range from a Chris Baird cross before Chris Brunt shot just wide.
But Serbia broke the deadlock in the 57th minute after Zoran Tosic crossed from the left, Gojko Kacar stepped over the ball and Lazovic slotted home.
Late on, substitute David Healy had an effort go just wide from the edge of the box to level the game.
NI boss Worthington was hoping for a consolation victory after the last home defeat by Slovakia effectively ended their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup finals.
Instead they again lacked a cutting edge and had nothing to show for some bright, energetic football.
There would have been interest in the match from Old Trafford as well with Nemanja Vidic having a 45-minute run-out as Serbia captain following a three-week absence from the Manchester United side because of a calf injury.
Vidic's team-mate Evans also played in the first half before limping off after taking a knock.
Serbia showed their intentions as early as the ninth minute when Kuzmanovic tested Taylor but the Birmingham goalkeeper did well to tip his effort over the bar.
NI, however, almost took the lead five minutes later when McGinn cut inside and tried his luck on goal but Isailovic was equal to it.
A cross from Evans then hit Petrovic on the arm in the penalty box but the referee waved play on, while Manchester United winger Tosic stung Taylor's fingers at the other end.
Then Baird escaped his marker in the 35th minute but sent his header the wrong side of the post.
The home side were playing some neat football and McGinn got behind the Serbia defence in the 42nd minute.
He fired in a shot from an acute angle that unnerved Aleksander Lukovic, who nearly scored an own goal and was relieved to see his mistimed clearance go out for a corner.
Serbia then almost took the lead two minutes later when Kuzmanovic was clear in front of goal.
However, he failed to test Taylor and blazed his effort high over the bar when it seemed easier to score.
Soon after the re-start, Lafferty failed to connect with a Baird cross and the home side should have again taken the lead in the 49th minute after good work by McGinn but Brunt slashed his effort wide of the post from close range.
Serbia then got the all-important goal in the 57th minute with a well-crafted effort from Lazovic.
He beat Taylor after a clever dummy from Kacar set him up following Tosic's cross.
But NI came close to equalising six minutes later only for Isailovic to make a stunning block to keep out Stephen Craigan's header.
Healy was then introduced in the 65th minute, replacing Feeney with the home side chasing the game.
McCann released Healy four minutes later but he scuffed his effort wide of the post, while Lazovic should have extended Serbia's lead in the 76th minute, showing good skill to carve out an opening in the penalty area but then hoisting his shot over the top.
NI, though, almost equalised in the 82nd minute but McCann's free-kick went marginally over the bar.
Then Healy made space outside the area only to send his effort across the face of the goal as Serbia held out.