A very wet night at Windsor Park ended in disappointment when an uncharacteristic mistake from former Fulham midfielder Stephen Davis resulted in a 1-0 victory for Serbia at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland had been on top in the 2nd half before a poor back pass from Davis gave Pantelic the opportunity to take the ball around Lee Camp and put the ball in the empty net dispite the best efforts of Skipper Aaron Hughes.
The first half started brightly for the hosts with David Healy forcing a save from Jorgacevic withing the first minute. However, Serbia soon began to take control and had the Northern Ireland defence under pressure. The brilliant Lee Camp was called into action on several occasions although it never really looked like he would be beaten. Northern Ireland only really looked like a threat on the break but often the final ball let them down when approaching the Serbian goal. Towards the end of the first half, Serbia were fortunate to keep 11 men on the pitch when Rajkovic caught Healy around the head with his knee. The Windsor Park crowd were furious when the yellow card came out of the referees pocket rather than a red!
The 2nd half seemed to be a different story when Northern Ireland went out all guns blasing and threatened to open the scoring. The passing from the hosts was much tidier than it was in the first half with Hughes, Davis and Brunt all combining well but just unable to find a decisive ball to allow someone to capitalise. Corry Evans nearly scored with a header after a fine cross from his brother Jonny. The entrance of McGinn brought more creativity to the Northern Ireland side but Serbia also began to come more into the match. Then, on 67mins Davis made the mistake that lost the match when he gave a poor back pass back to Camp which gave Pantelic his chance. After the goal, Northern Ireland lost their way and were fortunate to keep the score at 1-0 but Lee Camp was on hand to keep the score down.
Some time wasting from Serbia caused the crowd to go mad and 5 minutes were added on at the end of the match. Serbia looked nervy during extra time but managed to hold on to win all 3 points on a night that neither side could really afford to lose.
Northern Ireland must now look to Tuesday nights game in Estonia to try and get the campaign back on track if they want to have any chance at qualification. Baird and Hughes both played the full match and both played well with Hughes in particular making some fine tackles in the first half.