Defender McAuley powered home Oliver Norwood’s deep free-kick in the 49th minute to score his country’s first goal at a major tournament since Colin Clarke found the net against Spain at the 1986 World Cup.
Not even heavy rain – which turned into huge hailstones in the second half, causing the game to be suspended for two minutes – could dampen the spirits of those wearing green inside a sodden Parc Olympique Lyonnais, and they wrapped up a historic win when McGinn lashed home in injury time.
While Ukraine are now mired at the bottom of Group C without a point after two games – needing a favour from Germany when they take on Poland to keep them in the competition – the victory for Northern Ireland rekindles their hopes of qualifying for the last 16.
It also vindicated manager Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill’s decision to make five changes to the XI that started the 1-0 loss to Poland on Sunday.
Kyle Lafferty was one of those to be left out – a surprising move considering the forward scored seven goals in his country’s successful qualifying campaign.
But O’Neill’s selection shake-up had the desired effect and resulted in a performance with far more pace and purpose from the get go.
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