2016 European Championship, Group Stage 2016
  • Gareth McAuley (49')
  • Niall McGinn (90'+6')

Gareth McAuley and Northern Ireland stun Ukraine in Group C

Gareth McAuley's headed goal helped Northern Ireland to a 2-0 win over Ukraine in Euro 2016 Group C amid adverse weather in Lyon on Thursday.

Northern Ireland claimed their first win in a major tournament since 1982 after McAuley headed home Oliver Norwood's cross from a free kick four minutes after half-time, before substitute Niall McGinn added a second late on.

The first half saw relatively little action as the teams tried to adjust to pouring rain at the Stade des Lumieres.

With just under five minutes on the clock, Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas had the game's first attempt, but his 20-yard drive was safely gathered by goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

Serhiy Sydorchuk saw his effort from outside the area cannon away off McAuley as Ukraine looked to hit back, but Northern Ireland were showing far more intent than they had done in their opening defeat to Poland.

Conor Washington saw a Jamie Ward cross bounce off him and behind for a goal kick after a good Irish move down the right, and shortly after the half-hour mark Craig Cathcart thumped a header just over the bar from a corner.

Ukraine were struggling to impose much pressure of their own as the half wore on, but Yevhen Konoplyanka ran the ball out of play to end what had been a promising build-up just before half-time.

But Northern Ireland were on top shortly after the break when McAuley leapt to perfectly meet Norwood's free kick and direct it past Andriy Pyatov.

Ukraine then had their own opportunity from a similar set piece, but Yevhen Seleznyov sent his header directly at goalkeeper Michael McGovern.

Just as the game's tempo began to quicken, Czech referee Pavel Kralovec briefly halted the game as the rain turned to hail. Players left the pitch, but returned to action within two minutes.

Ukraine then pushed for the equaliser, Viktor Kovalenko firing a shot just wide of the post in the 71st minute.

Five minutes later, Kovalenko had another chance when he was given space at the top of the box, but he skewed his shot well wide from 20 yards.

There were some scrambles in the six minutes of stoppage time, but it was Northern Ireland who added a second goal in the final seconds.

Stuart Dallas' shot from the top of the box was saved but Pyatov could only push the ball out to McGinn, who lashed home to seal the win.

Northern Ireland earned three crucial points ahead of their tall task against Germany, while Ukraine were the first team eliminated after Germany and Poland's draw in the late game on Thursday.