Worthington woe as North crash to shock defeat

NORTHERN IRELAND’S slim hopes of a Euro 2012 play-off – and possibly Nigel Worthington’s prospects of a new contract – were finally extinguished with a second defeat at the hands of lowly Estonia.

Having slumped to a 4-1 loss in Tallinn last month, this match was as much about revenge as keeping alive their mathematical hopes of second place in Group C.

Rangers pair Steven Davis and Kyle Lafferty combined to put the hosts ahead on 22 minutes, Lafferty breaking down the right and drilling a low cross across the six-yard box. Goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko spilled it and Davis beat two defenders to the ball to bundle home.

With 15 minutes remaining Craig Cathcart was penalised for impeding Vassiljev as he cut into the area. He took the penalty himself and drilled into the centre of goal for the equaliser.

Cathcart had the chance to atone with nine minutes left, Brunt heading McCann’s long free-kick to the Blackpool defender six yards out.

He did well to get over the ball but there was no power in his shot and Pareiko saved easily.

Instead, it was Estonia who snatched the points after 84 minutes thanks to a glorious long-range strike from Vassiljev but it left the North players furious after the linesman was seen to raise his flag in the build-up only to go unheeded.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Camp, Hodson, Cathcart, McAuley, Baird, McCourt, Clingan, Davis, McCann, Brunt, Lafferty.

ESTONIA: Pareiko, Piiroja, Klavan, Jaager, Stepanov, Kruglov, Dmitrijev, Puri, Vunk, Kink, Ahjupera.

Referee: Manuel Grafe (Germany).

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