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Evans stars as Northern Ireland claim crucial win

17 June 2016

Corry Evans was one of the star performers on a historic day for Northern Ireland, who kick-started their Euro 2016 campaign with a 2-0 victory over Ukraine.

Goals from Gareth McAuley and Niall McGinn earned Northern Ireland their first ever victory at a European Championship and boosted their chances of reaching the last 16. 

Having been an unused substitute in their opening group game – a 1-0 defeat to Poland – Evans was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up in Lyon, but he rewarded the faith shown in him by manager Michael O’Neill with an outstanding individual display.

The Rovers midfielder twice went close in the first half and covered every blade of grass, before being replaced by Paddy McNair in the 93rd minute due to a tight groin.

West Brom defender McAuley opened the scoring on 49 minutes – heading home Oliver Norwood’s free-kick – before a hailstorm briefly forced the players off the pitch.

After they returned, Aberdeen winger McGinn wrapped up the win deep into stoppage time to hand Northern Ireland their first victory at a major tournament in 34 years.

Germany's goalless draw with Poland on Thursday evening eliminated Ukraine, meaning Northern Ireland will finish at least third in Group C. 

Victory against the World Champions in Paris on Tuesday would guarantee their place in the last 16, however they may have already done enough to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.

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