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Northern Ireland 2 (Furness 5, Magill 57)>
Ukraine 1 (Apanashchenko 22)
Northern Ireland 2 (Furness 5, Magill 57)
Northern Ireland produced one of the greatest results in their history to beat Ukraine 2-1 in Kovalivka and take a precious advantage into the second leg of their UEFA Women's Euro 2022 play-off on Tuesday.
Participating in their first ever play-off for a major tournament, Northern Ireland started brightly. Kirsty McGuinness fired a decent cross into the area which just evaded Nadene Caldwell at the back post.
Furness pounced after just five minutes to make it 1-0 to Northern Ireland. Ukraine holding midfielder Tamila Khimich played a poor pass forward and the attacking midfielder nipped in to steer the ball past Ukraine keeper Iryna Sanina. The ball hit the keeper's foot on the way into the net but Furness rightly claimed the goal.
Ukraine then pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Rebecca Holloway made a couple of timely interceptions in quick succession, while down the other end her looping shot was easily collected by Sanina.
Ukraine equalised on 22 minutes when their captain and star player Darya Apanashchenko flicked a header past Northern Ireland keeper Jackie Burns into the bottom corner. The midfielder got on the end of a pinpoint cross from Iya Andrushchak to grab her 61st goal for her country.
On the half hour mark Northern Ireland were dealt a blow as Furness, who was clearly hobbling, was replaced by Chloe McCarron in the middle of the park but she quickly settled into the game, spreading the play when possible. Burns comfortably grabbed a shot from Khimich moments before the half time whistle was blown by German referee Riem Hussein.
Just after the break, Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan broke down the left and fired the ball across the face of goal, Magill just failing to connect with it. The Northern Ireland defence stood firm with veterans Ashley Hutton, Julie Nelson and Sarah McFadden working tirelessly alongside wing backs Holloway and Rebecca McKenna, who had a superb match.
On 57 minutes, Northern Ireland took the lead again when Magill got on the end of a McFadden flick on, forced her way past her marker and controlled the ball on her chest before neatly clipping the ball high into the net past Sanina from ten yards.
Ten minutes later a diving Burns pushed away a free kick from Apanashchenko, before a last ditch tackle from Hutton snuffed out another Ukraine attack. Ukraine substitute Nadia Kunina just failed to connect with a clever through ball before the outstanding McKenna was chopped down by a frustrated Khimich as she threatened to break free down the right. It was a cynical foul, however the ref only gave a yellow card to the Ukrainian midfielder.
With minutes remaining, Khimich fired in a rasping long range effort which Burns got her fingertips to, and the resulting corner was eventually cleared. It was backs to the wall in the four minutes of injury time, however the girls in green and white held their nerve and held on for a deserved victory.
Ukraine: Iryna Sanina, Anastasiya Filenko, Olha Basanska (sub Anna Petryk 81mins), Nicole Kozlova (sub Yana Kalinina 86mins), Lyubov Shmatko, Iya Andrushchak (sub Natiya Pantsulaya 45mins), Olha Ovdiychuk, Darya Apanashchenko (sub Veronika Andrukhiv 86mins), Roksolana Kravchuk (sub Nadiya Kunina 61mins), Tamila Khimich, Darya Kravets. Subs not used: Daryna Bondarchuk, Kateryna Samson, Iryna Podolska, Olha Boichenko, Anna Voronina, Anastasiya Voronina, Yana Malakhova.
Northern Ireland: Jackie Burns, Rebecca McKenna, Rebecca Holloway, Sarah McFadden (sub Laura Rafferty 79mins), Julie Nelson, Ashley Hutton, Marissa Callaghan, Nadene Caldwell (sub Ciara Watling 79mins), Simone Magill, Rachel Furness (sub Chloe McCarron 32mins), Kirsty McGuinness (sub Samantha Kelly 90mins). Subs not used: Rebecca Flaherty, Emma McMaster, Toni-Leigh Finnegan, Louise McDaniel, Emily Wilson, Danielle Maxwell, Kerry-Anne Beattie.
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