Gareth McAuley’s superb header and Niall McGinn’s goal in the injury time gifted Northern Ireland a 2-0 victory over Ukraine at the Stade de Lyon here on Thursday in their second EURO 2016 Group C game.
— FutbolPhotos (@FutboIPhotos) June 16, 2016
McAuley scored the opener for Northern Ireland in the 49th minute. Central midfielder Oliver Norwood floated a free-kick into the area to pick McAuley, who powered home a header into the top corner to score his country’s first goal at a major tournament
McGinn put the game to bed as he scored the second in the dying minutes of the injury time. Magennis rushed in from the right and whipped in a clinical cross into the area to find Dallas, who fired a thunderous strike at goal but Pyatov got a hand to it. McGinn pounced on to the rebound and launched a venomous strike at the bottom right corner to beat the goalkeeper.
— Matt Lynch (@mattlyynch) June 16, 2016
The referee has suspended the match in the 58th minute due to heavy downpour followed by a spell of hailstorm. Even a spell of heavy rainfall couldn’t beat down the confidence of the men who wore green inside a soggy Parc Olympique Lyonnais. However the match resumed after two minutes.
History was made as Northern Ireland, who lost to Poland 1-0 in the opener, won their first ever game at a European Championship final.
“We produced a great reaction after the Poland game and now we have something to show for it,” said McAuley. “We’ve got another tough game against Germany but we’re delighted and hopefully we’ll grow more confident.”
Ukraine had better spell of possession and created several good chances but they didn’t finish them off, while Northern Ireland did better in attacking.
Ukraine had a chance to pull one back in the 51st minute. Seleznyov got on the end of McGovern’s inswinging free-kick to launch a header at goal but it fell into the hands of the goalkeeper.
“We made major mistakes on the pitch. We weren’t prepared enough mentally,” said Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko. “Perhaps our players overestimated the opponent and underestimated the effort needed to get victory. We allowed them to play their own football – that’s why we lost.”
Northern Ireland players wore black armbands to pay their respect to a soccer fan who died after a fall following the team’s defeat by Poland.
Northern Ireland will face world champions Germany next in their final group stage game. Ukraine should beat Poland next Tuesday and hope the Irish lose heavily to Germany to advance.