Liverpool’s Rachel Furness and Everton’s Simone Magill got the goals as Northern Ireland recorded a famous 2-1 victory over Ukraine in Kovalivka this evening.
Kenny Shiels’ side took on a Ukraine team ranked 25 places higher than them in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings but came out on top in the first leg of their UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 play-off.
Northern Ireland went into the match with a ‘win at all costs’ mentality and they caught the hosts out after just five minutes. A mistake from Tamila Khimich gifted Furness a golden opportunity to break the deadlock, one which she gratefully took.
Ukraine levelled matters in the 22nd minute when an Iya Andrushchak cross was headed in by record goalscorer Daryna Apanashchenko before Northern Ireland suffered a further blow when Furness limped off in tears as her game came to an end.
Despite losing one of their most influential players, Northern Ireland simply grew in strength and showed plenty of character. They matched Ukraine in every department and got their reward 12 minutes into the second half when Magill nipped in before looping her shot into the roof of the net.
Ukraine threatened the Northern Irish goal late on as a flurry of set plays provided them with opportunities to get back into the game but the visitors held firm and claimed a wonderful 2-1 victory, arguably one of their greatest-ever results.
The two sides meet in the second leg in Belfast on Tuesday evening and Northern Ireland will believe that they now have every chance of qualifying for the tournament finals.