Kenny Sheils’ Northern Ireland side return home from Kyiv with a historic 2-1 win against the Ukraine which included two priceless away goals in the first leg of the Euro 2022 play-off. However, this win has come at a cost as first goalscorer, Rachel Furness, hobbled off with an injury which may make her a doubt for the return leg.
Furness gave her side the perfect start inside five minutes when she pounced on a loose pass from a goal kick to slot in the opening goal past a despairing Iryna Sanina.
Fifteen minutes later, Ukraine’s record goalscorer, Daryna Apanaschenko, ghosted into the box to head her side level in Kovalivka.
This sparked a period of dominance by the hosts. Less than ten minutes later it was heartbreak for Furness as a late tackle forced her off the pitch. She battled to run it off but to no avail, leaving the pitch in tears.
The Green Army managed to steady the ship and the first half ended 1-1 with the match finely poised.
Simone Magill began the first half brightly, hitting a chance from a tight angle into the side netting. A few minutes later Magill handed her side the lead once again with a half volley which gave Sanina no chance.
Ukraine rallied late on but Northern Ireland were able to hang on and will go into the second leg full of confidence that they can continue to make history and qualify for the European Championships.
The second leg takes place at Seaview on Tuesday and will be live on BBC Two Northern Ireland, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website.
Northern Ireland: Jackie Burns, Rebecca Holloway, Sarah McFadden, Julie Nelson, Ashley Hutton, Rebecca McKenna, Marissa Callaghan (captain), Nadene Caldwell, Simone Magill, Rachel Furness, Kirsty McGuinness.
Substitutes: (used) Chloe McCarron, Ciara Watling, Laura Rafferty, Samantha Kelly; (unused) Rebecca Flaherty, Emma McMaster, Toni Leigh Finnegan, Louise McDaniel, Emily Wilson, Danielle Maxwell, Kerry Anne Beattie.
Ukraine: Iryna Sanina, Anastasiya Filenko, Olha Basanska, Nicole Kozlova, Lyubov Shmatko, Iya Andrushchak, Olha Ovdiychuk, Darya Apanashchenko, Roksolana Kravchuk, Tamila Khimich, Darya Kravets.
Substitutes: Daryna Bondarchuk (GK), Kateryna Samson (GK), Iryna Podolska, Anna Petryk, Veronika Andrukhiv, Yana Kalinina, Olha Boichenko, Nadiya Kunina, Anna Voronina, Natiya Pantsulaya, Anastasiya Voronina, Yana Malakhova.