Ukraine vs. Northern Ireland: Score and Twitter Reaction from Euro 2016

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2016

Northern Ireland's Gareth Mcauley, center left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Euro 2016 Group C soccer match between Ukraine and Northern Ireland at the Grand Stade in Decines-­Charpieu, near Lyon, France, Thursday, June 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

Northern Ireland shocked Ukraine in Group C of UEFA Euro 2016 on Thursday, winning 2-0 in testing weather at the Stade de Lyon, France.

Gareth McAuley wrote his name into Irish football folklore in the torrential rain and cold conditions, giving his side the opener shortly after half-time.

Niall McGinn finished the match off in the sixth minute of injury time, smashing the ball home from close range to complete the famous result.

The sun broke through at full-time, and its arrival signalled the start of a huge Northern Irish party in France.

Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press

Northern Ireland made five changes to their side from their defeat to Poland as Conor Washington, Aaron Hughes, Corry Evans, Jamie Ward and Stuart Dallas were all drafted into the lineup. Washington led the line in place of Kyle Lafferty, supported from the channels by Dallas and Ward.

Ukraine decided on just the one change to their side from their 2-0 loss to Germany as Yevhen Seleznyov got the nod ahead of Roman Zozulya to lead the attack.

Northern Ireland had more attacking intent in their ranks after a cautious opening to their tournament, and they pushed forward with a noticeable verve missing previously in France.

Dallas tested goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov early on, but the stopper was equal to it as he dived low to his left.

Journalist Julian Taylor commented on coach Michael O'Neill's selection and tactics in the first half:

Washington worked tirelessly as the Irish displayed a workhorse style of play. Ukraine were restricted to the midfield as their opponents played on the front foot.

However, despite a number of raids into opposition territory, the scores remained goalless at the break.

WhoScored.com provided the half-time player ratings and vital stats:

Northern Ireland made their first-half advantages pay in just the fourth minute of the second half as McAuley's header took the lead, sending the Irish fans into raptures.

The defender pulled away at the far post and met Oliver Norwood's cross with expert precision.

ITV Football provided video footage of the strike:

Rory Smith of the Times called the action:

Opta Joe highlighted the significance of the goal for the Irish:

Michael Sohn/Associated Press

Ukraine almost hit back immediately as Seleznyov guided Andriy Yarmolenko's free-kick towards the bottom corner, but stopper Michael McGovern was in the right place at the right time to make the save low to his left.

The game was suspended shortly before the hour-mark as heavy rain and hail fell from the skies, temporarily making play impossible to continue, but the players were back on the pitch within minutes after sheltering in the tunnel from the elements.

ITV Sport (h/t the Telegraph) shared media of the downpour:

Michael Sohn/Associated Press

Ukraine were clearly struggling with the mental challenge of being behind, and the tackles flew in thick and fast from both sides.

Shakhtar Donetsk's Viktor Kovalenko missed a tremendous opportunity after 71 minutes, slicing his shot wide when the equaliser looked inevitable.

The midfielder mistimed the swing of his boot as his team-mates looked on in despair.

Tired legs were evident in the final stages on a heavy pitch that was ebbing close to waterlogged conditions in places.

LYON, FRANCE - JUNE 16:  Niall McGinn of Northern Ireland celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Ukraine and Northern Ireland at Stade des Lumieres on June 16, 2016 in Lyon, France.  (Photo by Clive Bruns
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Ukraine pushed for a vital goal in the final minutes of the game, but the Northern Ireland defence maintained their shape during six minutes of stoppage time, led by the outstanding Jonny Evans.

McGinn was the lucky Irish player on the spot in the sixth minute of stoppage time, finding the net to destroy Ukrainian hopes and trigger wild celebrations.

Northern Ireland move level with Germany and Poland on three points in Group C, with both nations featuring against each other on Thursday evening.

  

Post-Match Reaction

McAuley was ecstatic at his side's accomplishments as Northern Ireland bucked the trend to beat a powerful Ukraine, per ITV Football:

Northern Ireland play their final group match at the tournament when they face Germany on Tuesday.