Ukraine 0-1 Northern Ireland
A second half Gareth McAuley header saw Northern Ireland take the lead against Ukraine before a 95th minute Niall McGinn strike ensured all three points.
The first half saw Ukraine get off to the better start placing the Northern Irish defence under pressure but Michael O’Neill’s men were solid and cleared the danger when required. Yarmolenko was the danger man for Ukraine but his efforts didn’t see his side go ahead. Conor Washington started in place of Kyle Lafferty today and he looked a constant threat when the Ulstermen went forward. As the half wore on Northern Ireland enjoyed a spell of attacks on the Ukrainian goal. Captain Stephen Davis forced goalkeeper Pyatov to produce a good save just before the break. The sides were level as they made their way out of the rain and down the tunnel.
Northern Ireland began the second half as they left off the first placing pressure on Ukrainians. Four minutes after the restart the Green and White Army took the lead. Norwood delivered free kick from midway inside the Ukrainian half and sent it deep to the far past where Gareth McAuley had shaken free of Khacheridi. He headed the ball into the top left corner of the net, giving the goalkeeper no chance. A memorable goal for all Northern Irish fans.
Ukraine now began to apply pressure going close to an equaliser from the restart. As he did against Poland, Michael McGovern produced some excellent saves to ensure his side remained ahead. Play was soon suspended due to a torrential hail shower but this delay was less than three minutes in length. Ukraine went within a whisker of equalising. A long ball from inside their half was lifted towards Seleznyov who got sandwiched between two defenders but the ball rebounded off him towards Kovalenko who drove the ball just over from the edge of the penalty area.The final quarter of an hour saw half chances for a Ukraninan equaliser with substitute Zinchenko forcing a save with his first touch. A touch-line mix-up saw Paddy McNair get ready to come on only for the substitution to be cancelled with Stuart Dallas receiving a yellow cards as a result on the delay. The Northern Irishmen were forced to endure six minutes of added time as they put their bodies to keep Ukrainian efforts at bay. A 95th counter attack saw substitute Josh Magennis lay the ball out to Dallas who unleashed a shot on goal Pyatov stopped this effort but the ball fell to substitute Niall McGinn who made no mistake in making it 2-0 sealing a famous win for the nation.The sun emerged from the clouds and boy did it shine on the Ulstermen this evening.
Northern Ireland are joint top of Group C with co-leaders Germany and Poland facing each other tonight. Ukraine sit at the bottom with no points despite two spirited performances.
Man of the Match – Gareth McAuley (Northern Ireland)
- Roman Zozulya replaces Yevhen Seleznyov 71 mins
- Denis Garmash replaces Serhiy Sydorchuk 75 mins
Oleksandr Zinchenko replaces Viktor Kovalenko 83 mins
Northern Ireland –
- Niall McGinn replaces Jamie Ward 69 mins
- Josh Magennis replaces Conor Washington 83 mins
- Patrick McNair replaces Corry Evans 90+ mins
Ukraine – Yevhen Seleznyov,Serhiy Sydorchuk.
Northern Ireland – Jamie Ward,Stuart Dallas,Jonny Evans.