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Published: 18:36 | 16/6/16

Northern Ireland shock Ukraine

Michael O'Neill's side win Group C clash in Lyon

Northern Ireland took a giant step towards the last 16 of Euro 2016 with a stunning 2-0 win over Ukraine in Lyon.

Gareth McAuley and Niall McGinn netted second-half goals as Michael O'Neill's side put aside the disappointment of Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Poland with a victory at the Stade de Lyon that secures at least third spot in Group C, and all but certain qualification to the last 16 of the 24-team tournament.

Ukraine, in last place in the group without a point from their two matches, cannot now finish above Northern Ireland, who are level with Germany and Poland on three points, because of the province's superior head-to-head record.

Northern Ireland, showing far more attacking intent than they had shown in the disappointing defeat to Poland in Nice, had the better of the opening 45 minutes against a leaden Ukraine team.

Manager O'Neill, who made five changes from the side that started against the Poles, will be well pleased by the way his players stuck to the game-plan that had served them so well in the qualifiers.

Northern Ireland qualified as winners from a group that included Romania, Hungary, Finland and Greece by playing to their strengths of resolute defending, denying their opponents space in midfield and using set-pieces to put their opponents on the back foot.

And it was more of the same against Mykhalo Fomenko's side, as they recorded their most famous victory on the world stage since beating Spain in the 1982 World Cup.

They almost took the lead in the 33rd minute from such a set-piece, with Craig Cathcart seeing his header from Jamie Ward's corner just drift over the Ukraine goal.

They eventually made the breakthrough three minutes after the break, as McAuley leaped above Yevhen Khacheridi to float a header from Oliver Norwood's into the top left-hand corner.

And, as Ukraine chased an equaliser in the six minutes of injury time that followed a short hail interruption in the second half, McGinn netted a second from close range after Stuart Dallas had seen his initial shot parried by Ukraine Andriy Pyatov.

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