Euro 2016: Northern Ireland stun Ukraine

Gareth McAuley’s header and a stoppage-time strike by substitute Niall McGinn helped Northern Ireland beat Ukraine to earn their first win at a European Championship.

West Brom defender McAuley got on the end of Oliver Norwood’s perfectly delivered free-kick for the crucial 49th-minute opener.

After the players were withdrawn because of a hailstorm, McGinn followed up Stuart Dallas’ fierce shot to make sure of a famous victory and revive hopes of progressing to the last 16.

Michael O’Neill’s men know they cannot finish bottom of Group C now as Ukraine remain without a point.

However, after losing their opening match to Poland, they may still need a draw against Germany in Paris on Sunday.

O’Neill’s tactical masterclass

Michael O’Neill gambled by making five changes, including relegating top scorer Kyle Lafferty to the substitutes’ bench.

Lafferty’s place went to 24-year-old Conor Washington, the QPR striker who was working as a postman and playing for St Ives in the ninth tier of English football the last time the Euros were staged in 2012.

But it paid off fantastically as Northern Ireland clinched their first win at a major tournament since famously beating hosts Spain at the 1982 World Cup.

Washington and Ward proved a handful for a Ukraine team who had kept 21 clean sheets in their past 39 games.

Northern Ireland’s strength from set-pieces told again as McAuley, 36, brilliantly got on the end of Norwood’s well-taken free-kick for the first goal.

After a hail shower that saw the players withdrawn and substitutions, six minutes of stoppage time were added on.

But Northern Ireland’s nervousness disappeared when Aberdeen winger McGinn pounced to seal victory.

Czech referee Pavel Kralovec led the players off for a two-minute delay during the second half after a hail storm
Source: BBC Sport

Comments