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McAuley heads Northern Ireland to victory

McAuley heads Northern Ireland to victory

India Blooms News Service | | 17 Jun 2016, 02:18 am
Lyon , June 17 (IBNS) Northern Ireland have breathed life into their Group C campaign after overcoming Ukraine 1-0 to leave their opponents in real danger of elimination.

Both teams needed a win after opening with defeats, and it was a much-changed Northern Ireland side that made the first incursion. Many wondered how Michael O'Neill's men would perform without the surprisingly dropped Kyle Lafferty, but they were given an early pointer when Stuart Dallas tested Andriy Pyatov with a skidding effort.

The midfielder had been brought in along with Jamie Ward to provide energy out wide and harry danger men Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka – and, true enough, Ukraine found it difficult to turn possession into chances.

The action was briefly interrupted by the referee as the rain turned to hail, but the chance to gather their thoughts did not help Ukraine. Still deprived of opportunities, Viktor Kovalenko fired their best wide, with substitute Niall McGinn rounding off a memorable victory for Northern Ireland late in added time. Mykhailo Fomenko's side will now be eliminated if Poland avoid a loss to Germany in the late kick-off.Instead, it was Northern Ireland who looked likelier to score, Craig Cathcart heading over from a corner, before the men in green made their set-piece prowess count shortly after the break. With rain lashing down in Lyon, Oliver Norwood floated a free-kick over the defence and Gareth McAuley nodded in powerfully at the back post.

Man of the match: Gareth McAuley