Worthington praises NI troops
Nigel Worthington hailed Northern Ireland as they began their qualifying campaign with victory over Slovenia.
By Danny Wright
Last Updated: 04/09/10 2:06pm
A delighted Nigel Worthington hailed his Northern Ireland side as they began their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with victory over Slovenia.
Corry Evans' solitary strike proved to be the difference between the two teams as the young substitute struck with 20 minutes remaining to earn a famous 1-0 win.
And Worthington praised his troops for withstanding an onslaught from the Alpine nation, who had gone into the clash as heavy favourites to win.
Worthington told Sky Sports: "We were resilient in our shape and in our defending. We knew Slovenia were going to throw the kitchen sink at us, but we headed and got blocks in and it was fantastic."
The victory came as his side broke a run of seven games without scoring, and the manager added: "The performance overall was superb. The players deserve all the credit - they've worked hard all week.
"They stuck to the game plan and that's the big thing. That worked for us, so same again."
Worthington singled out Evans, 20, and debutant Craig Cathcart, who set up his team mate on his debut to grab the three points.
The Blackpool stopper was played out of position at left-back in the absence of the injured Jonny Evans and his boss was beaming after witnessing a bold showing from the match-winning pair.
There was also a late showing for schoolboy prospect John Gorman and Worthington went on: "I'm delighted with Craig. He's done a good, solid job. It's not his natural position, but he's stuck to it and great credit to him.
"It was a super display for him, and of course, young Corry - I've got no fears about Corry. I've worked with him for three years and apart from his goal he's showed what he can do.
"I'm delighted for him as well and young Johnny Gorman, who came on and showed maturity as well."
The result puts Northern Ireland third in qualifying Group C and Worthington knows there is plenty more to be done if his players are to book a place at the Euro 2012 Championship.
Former World champions Italy are their next opponents at Windsor Park and Manchester United youngster Evans is looking forward to the game after silencing his team's critics, who had written off their campaign due to a poor away record.
Evans said: "I haven't scored for Northern Ireland since I was a schoolboy, so to get on the score sheet in such an important match is fantastic.
"We've had our criticism over our away from and for not being able to score goals, so to win away with a clean sheet is great.
"We'll give it our best at Windsor Park (against Italy) and see what happens."
Worthington believes the victory gives Northern Ireland a platform for the visit of Azzurri, adding: "I think it's a great game. It sets that game up for Windsor Park and we'll be ready for that one."