European Championship Qualifying - Group F
GreeceGreece0Northern IrelandNorthern Ireland2

Greece 0-2 Northern Ireland

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI
Kostas Stafylidis and Kyle Lafferty vie for possession
Kostas Stafylidis and Kyle Lafferty vie for possession in Piraeus
  • NI open qualifiers with three wins for first time
  • Kyle Lafferty scores in each of the three wins
  • Greece been in Fifa top 20 for all but four months since 2004
  • NI defender Gareth McAuley wins his 50th cap

Northern Ireland produced a heroic performance to defeat Greece and begin a qualifying campaign with three successive wins for the first time.

Beating the top seeds keeps Northern Ireland two points clear at the top of Euro 2016 qualifying Group F, ahead of Romania, whom they visit next month.

Jamie Ward's shot deflected off Loukas Vyntra to put the visitors ahead.

And, after half-time, Kyle Lafferty ran clear and fired home a low shot from the edge of the area to seal victory.

It was a sublime finish from the Norwich City striker, who has now scored in each of the opening three qualifiers against Hungary, the Faroe Islands and Greece to take his tally of international goals to 12.

Northern Ireland began brightly as they attempted to extend their 100% record and Ward's ninth-minute opener was just reward for their endeavour.

O'Neill praises N Ireland quality

Greece, who had garnered only one point from their opening two matches, began to enjoy more possession, but a poor final ball let them down on too many occasions.

Nikos Karelis threatened in the 33rd minute as he burst through on goal and lifted the ball over advancing goalkeeper Roy Carroll, but his effort went well wide of the post.

Just before the interval, Lafferty latched onto an incisive Chris Baird pass, ran down the left wing and powered past a defender, before unleashing a fierce shot which cannoned off the underside of the bar.

The big forward made no mistake six minutes after the break as the visitors executed a fine breakaway goal, which secured only their second ever success over Greece, the previous triumph coming in a World Cup qualifier in October 1961.

The struggling hosts, European Championship winners in 2004, carved out only one notable chance in the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his curling left-foot shot pushed round the post by former Olympiakos keeper Carroll.

The result leaves Greece manager Claudio Ranieri still looking for the first win of his tenure as his side struggle to find the form which reflects their world ranking of 14 and saw them reach the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil.

Northern Ireland had lost four of their last five fixtures against Greece, but Michael O'Neill's side now head to Romania with plenty of confidence and momentum as they seek to qualify for a European Championship for the first time and for their first tournament since the 1986 World Cup finals.

NI captain Steven Davis
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis led his side with distinction against the Greeks
Northern Ireland players celebrate
Northern Ireland players gather around Kyle Lafferty, scorer of the second goal in Piraeus
Michael O'Neill becomes the first NI manager to lead his side to three wins at the start of a campaign
Michael O'Neill becomes the first NI manager to lead his side to three wins at the start of a campaign
Northern Ireland players celebrate
Northern Ireland players Ryan McGivern and Oliver Norwood celebrate after the final whistle

Line-ups

Greece

  • 1Karnezis
  • 11VyntraSubstituted forStafylidisat 16'minutes
  • 4Manolas
  • 19Papastathopoulos
  • 15Torosidis
  • 18Karelis
  • 23Tachtsidis
  • 2ManiatisBooked at 59mins
  • 7SamarasBooked at 32minsSubstituted forSalpingidisat 67'minutes
  • 17AthanasiadisSubstituted forSamarisat 45'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 9Mitroglou

Substitutes

  • 3Stafylidis
  • 5Moras
  • 6Tziolis
  • 8Mantalos
  • 10Fortounis
  • 12Glykos
  • 13Kapino
  • 14Salpingidis
  • 16Mavrias
  • 20Giannoulis
  • 21Skondras
  • 22Samaris

Northern Ireland

  • 1Carroll
  • 2McLaughlin
  • 4McAuley
  • 18Hughes
  • 11FergusonSubstituted forReevesat 78'minutes
  • 6Baird
  • 13Evans
  • 8Davis
  • 16Norwood
  • 19WardSubstituted forMcGivernat 59'minutes
  • 10LaffertyBooked at 28minsSubstituted forMagennisat 73'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3McGivern
  • 5McCullough
  • 7McGinn
  • 9Mckay
  • 12Mannus
  • 14Clingan
  • 15McCourt
  • 17Grigg
  • 20McLaughlin
  • 21Magennis
  • 22Reeves
  • 23McGovern
Referee:
Stéphane Lannoy

Match Stats

Home TeamGreeceAway TeamNorthern Ireland
Possession
Home76%
Away24%
Shots
Home11
Away6
Shots on Target
Home1
Away4
Corners
Home2
Away3
Fouls
Home14
Away13

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Greece 0, Northern Ireland 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Greece 0, Northern Ireland 2.

  3. Post update

    Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland).

  5. Booking

    Andreas Samaris (Greece) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  6. Post update

    Andreas Samaris (Greece).

  7. Post update

    Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kostas Mitroglou (Greece) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Andreas Samaris with a cross.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Greece) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Nikolaos Karelis.

  10. Post update

    Hand ball by Nikolaos Karelis (Greece).

  11. Post update

    Foul by Dimitrios Salpingidis (Greece).

  12. Post update

    Ryan McGivern (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Konstantinos Stafylidis (Greece) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Conor McLaughlin (Northern Ireland).

  15. Post update

    Offside, Northern Ireland. Ben Reeves tries a through ball, but Josh Magennis is caught offside.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Northern Ireland. Ben Reeves replaces Shane Ferguson.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Greece).

  18. Post update

    Shane Ferguson (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Northern Ireland. Josh Magennis replaces Kyle Lafferty.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Greece) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner from a direct free kick.