Euro 2016 Best 10: Ukraine 0 – 2 Northern Ireland
Neil Evans on the ten best moments from the match that meant Ukraine are the first team declared out of Euro 2016.
1. The bold and the beautiful: Michael O’Neill rang the changes for this crucial game, and they paid off big time. Proof (if it were needed) that a calculated gamble can produce the sweetest result, with two up top setting the tone for an excellent team performance.
2. Good Times Never Felt So Good: The pre-match rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’ was a wonderful sight to behold as over 20,000 belted out the famous karaoke classic!
3. A classy tribute from the Green and White Army in the 24th minute to 24-year old Darren Rodgers, who died falling from a walkway after Northern Ireland’s first match in Nice – a fitting minute’s applause.
4. Worth the wait: After a 30-year drought for a tournament goal, 36-year old Gareth McCauley’s towering header got the party started in Lyon.
5. Evans Above! Head and shoulders above anyone on the field, Jonny Evans’ display was a masterclass in defending and leadership – no doubt inspired by sharing the stage with younger brother Corey.
6. Hail Stops Play!: All those talk of water breaks in summer tournaments probably didn’t bargain for Czech referee Pavel Královec having to take a short break as steady rain turned to stinging hail. At least the kits got a good washing!
7. Tekkers from Dallas: A sublime piece of skill from Stuart Dallas makes my highlight reel – a little shimmy and drag back befuddling his Ukrainian would-be marker.
8. Down and Out: The Germany v Poland result capped a miserable day for Ukrainian football; no goals, no points and no chance. Just a bizarre shot of a substitute holding a plastic cup full of hail, a metaphor for a futile campaign.
9. It’s great up north! The heat and humidity of Nice replaced by good old Ulster-style rain literally whetted Northern Ireland’s appetite for a fight as much as it confounded Ukraine’s dreary display.
10. McGinn and tonic! Why bother with taking the ball into the corner when you can score a second, killer goal? Loved Iain Dowie’s audible scream as Niall McGinn sealed an historic victory. He’s probably slumped in a Lyon hostelry somewhere as you read this!
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