European Championship Qualifying - Group F
Northern Ireland3Greece1

Euro 2016 qualifiers: Northern Ireland v Greece

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Steven Davis hails 'incredible' Northern Ireland qualification

Northern Ireland have qualified for the Euro 2016 finals by beating Greece 3-1 on a brilliant night at Windsor Park.

Two goals by skipper Steven Davis and one by stand-in striker Josh Magennis sent them through to a major tournament for the first time in 30 years.

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Watch our fans' guide to Euro 2016

Davis forced in a first-half goal, and then headers by Magennis and Davis ensured Northern Ireland were going to their first European finals.

Christos Aravidis got a late goal for Greece but it did not spoil the party.

With Romania drawing 1-1 at home to Finland, Northern Ireland will top Group F if they get a point in Finland on Sunday in their final qualifier.

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On new ground

Captain Davis was one year old and Kilmarnock player Magennis not even born the last time Northern Ireland competed at a major finals - the 1986 World Cup when Billy Bingham was manager and the team included Pat Jennings, Mal Donaghy and Norman Whiteside.

Northern Ireland fans had endured 14 unsuccessful qualifying campaigns since then, but those repeated disappointments made Thursday night's celebrations all the sweeter.

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Southampton midfielder Davis stretched to score his first goal in 13 games for his country after Stuart Dallas had delivered the ball low from the right.

Magennis netted a looping header from an Oliver Norwood corner on 49 minutes and nine minutes later Davis made it three with a well-placed header.

Magennis - keeper turned striker

It was a first international goal for 25-year-old Magennis, who played for Northern Ireland as a goalkeeper at Under-17 level.

When his club Cardiff City told the teenager from Bangor, County Down, he would not make it as a keeper, he was offered the chance to become a striker.

Josh Magennis celebrates
Goalscorer Josh Magennis was making his first international start

It was an opportunity he grabbed and has gone on to make a career in the Scottish Premiership.

The suspension of Kyle Lafferty, who had scored seven goals in this qualifying campaign, handed Magennis his chance to shine on the international stage and he celebrated his goal at Windsor Park by running into the arms of manager Michael O'Neill on the touchline.

Man of the match - Davis at the double

It was a case of captain fantastic as Steven Davis scored in both halves.

The midfielder netted for the first time in 13 Northern Ireland games when he opened the scoring 10 minutes before half-time. He later made it 3-0 with a well-placed header to cap a memorable night.

Steven Davis celebrates
Before Thursday, Davis had not scored an international goal since 15 October 2013 against Israel in a World Cup qualifier

Long wait ends

After the final whistle, the supporters known as the Green and White Army refused to leave the ground, singing in celebration as the realisation that so many years of hurt were over, began to sink in.

They were rewarded with an encore as their players came back out for a lap of honour.

Predictably, manager O'Neill got a special ovation as he was joined on the pitch by his two daughters and also lifted up by this players.

Manager O'Neill
O'Neill's side have won six of their nine qualifiers so far

Beating all the odds

Few would have given Northern Ireland much hope of reaching the expanded Euro finals, coming after a dismal qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup in which O'Neill's men lost to Luxembourg and could not beat Azerbaijan.

Even going into Thursday's match, there were doubts as Northern Ireland were without four key players in suspended Lafferty, Chris Baird and Conor McLaughlin and injured Jonny Evans.

But it all went right on the night at the partly-rebuilt Windsor Park, and O'Neill's men are top on 20 points and have scored most goals in the group.

Now 12 December has been put in the diary as that is when the draw for next year's finals takes place in Paris.

What the boss said:

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Michael O'Neill says Northern Ireland qualification 'phenomenal'

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill: "Tonight we were without four of our top players and yet we can come and win the game and win the game so well in such a tense occasion.

"We look forward to the draw now, it gives everyone something to look forward to. The preparations for France start now.

"We have to enjoy tonight, we have got a three-point gap now. Our objective was to qualify and we've done that. It is a lovely position to be in going into the last game."

How Northern Ireland reached Euro 2016
7 September 2014 - Hungary 1-2 Northern IrelandMcGinn, Lafferty (scorers)
11 October 2014 - Northern Ireland 2-0 Faroe IslandsMcAuley, Lafferty
14 October 2014 - Greece 0-2 Northern IrelandWard, Lafferty
14 November 2014 - Romania 2-0 Northern Ireland
29 March 2015 - Northern Ireland 2-1 FinlandLafferty 2
13 June 2015 - Northern Ireland 0-0 Romania
4 September 2015 - Faroe Islands 1-3 Northern IrelandMcAuley 2, Lafferty
7 September 2015 - Northern Ireland 1-1 HungaryLafferty
8 October 2015 - Northern Ireland 3-1 GreeceDavis 2, Magennis
11 October 2015 - Finland v Northern Ireland

Line-ups

Northern Ireland

  • 1McGovern
  • 17McNairSubstituted forMcCulloughat 85'minutes
  • 4McAuley
  • 20Cathcart
  • 11Brunt
  • 8Davis
  • 19WardSubstituted forMcGinnat 81'minutes
  • 13Evans
  • 16Norwood
  • 14Dallas
  • 21MagennisSubstituted forBoyceat 78'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Hodson
  • 3Ferguson
  • 5McCullough
  • 6Reeves
  • 7McGinn
  • 9Grigg
  • 10Mckay
  • 12Carroll
  • 15McCourt
  • 18McArdle
  • 22Boyce
  • 23Mannus

Greece

  • 1Karnezis
  • 15Torosidis
  • 19Papastathopoulos
  • 5Moras
  • 20Holebas
  • 22Samaris
  • 6Tziolis
  • 16KarelisSubstituted forMantalosat 65'minutes
  • 8KoneSubstituted forPelkasat 71'minutes
  • 21Aravidis
  • 9MitroglouSubstituted forAthanasiadisat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Kitsiou
  • 3Stafylidis
  • 7Pelkas
  • 10Fortounis
  • 11Vyntra
  • 12Kapino
  • 13Vellidis
  • 14Tzanetopoulos
  • 17Tachtsidis
  • 18Mantalos
  • 23Athanasiadis
Referee:
Bas Nijhuis

Match Stats

Home TeamNorthern IrelandAway TeamGreece
Possession
Home33%
Away67%
Shots
Home19
Away9
Shots on Target
Home3
Away4
Corners
Home10
Away3
Fouls
Home9
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Northern Ireland 3, Greece 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Northern Ireland 3, Greece 1.

José Holebas (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Steven Davis (Northern Ireland).

Christos Aravidis (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland).

Foul by Christos Aravidis (Greece).

Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Vangelis Moras (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Liam Boyce (Northern Ireland).

Goal!

Goal! Northern Ireland 3, Greece 1. Christos Aravidis (Greece) left footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Vasilis Torosidis.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Luke McCullough replaces Patrick McNair.

Attempt missed. Stefanos Athanasiadis (Greece) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by José Holebas with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Niall McGinn replaces Jamie Ward.

Alexandros Tziolis (Greece) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Steven Davis (Northern Ireland).

Attempt missed. Patrick McNair (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is too high following a corner.

Attempt blocked. Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by José Holebas.

Foul by Andreas Samaris (Greece).

Liam Boyce (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Liam Boyce replaces Josh Magennis.

Attempt missed. Stefanos Athanasiadis (Greece) header from the left side of the six yard box misses to the left. Assisted by Petros Mantalos with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Greece. Conceded by Chris Brunt.

Substitution

Substitution, Greece. Stefanos Athanasiadis replaces Kostas Mitroglou.

Attempt missed. Corry Evans (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Steven Davis.

Substitution

Substitution, Greece. Dimitrios Pelkas replaces Panagiotis Kone.

Foul by Vangelis Moras (Greece).

Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Andreas Samaris (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Corry Evans (Northern Ireland).

Offside, Northern Ireland. Corry Evans tries a through ball, but Josh Magennis is caught offside.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Sokratis.

Attempt blocked. Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Patrick McNair.

Substitution

Substitution, Greece. Petros Mantalos replaces Nikolaos Karelis.

Attempt saved. Kostas Mitroglou (Greece) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Panagiotis Kone.

Christos Aravidis (Greece) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Patrick McNair (Northern Ireland).

Goal!

Goal! Northern Ireland 3, Greece 0. Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner following a corner.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Sokratis.

goal

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Thursday 8th October 2015

View all European Championship Qualifying results

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Iceland86111531219
2Czech Rep86111610619
3Turkey8332119212
4Netherlands83141310310
5Latvia8044416-124
6Kazakhstan8026516-112

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Wales853092718
2Belgium85211731417
3Israel8413149513
4Bos-Herze83231210211
5Cyprus83051213-19
6Andorra8008330-270

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain87011831521
2Slovakia8611135819
3Ukraine8512123916
4Belarus8215714-77
5Luxembourg8116419-154
6Macedonia8107616-103

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany96122281419
2Poland95313192218
3R. of Ireland95311851318
4Scotland93331612412
5Georgia9306914-59
6Gibraltar9009250-480

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England88002632324
2Switzerland8503168815
3Slovenia84041510512
4Estonia831446-210
5Lithuania8305614-89
6San Marino8017127-261

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Northern Ireland9621157820
2Romania945082617
3Hungary944185316
4Finland932489-111
5Faroe Islands9207614-86
6Greece9036311-83

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Austria87101631322
2Russia84221741314
3Sweden8332119212
4Montenegro832388011
5Liechtenstein8125221-195
6Moldova8026312-92

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Italy8530115618
2Norway8512108216
3Croatia84311651114
4Bulgaria822479-28
5Azerbaijan8134613-76
6Malta8026313-102

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Portugal760194518
2Denmark833285312
3Albania732275211
4Serbia7214711-44
5Armenia7025511-62
View full European Championship Qualifying tables

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