Northern Ireland pulled off a sensational 2-1 win away to Ukraine on Friday 9 April in the UEFA Women’s Championship Qualifying Play-Off 1st Leg.
Rachel Furness gave the Irish a great start with an early away goal but soon had to be substituted due to a leg injury.
The hosts got back on level terms with a header by Daryna Apanaschenko but Kenny Shiels side restored their lead before the hour mark, Simone Magill latching onto the ball and getting beyond her marker to fire home.
There were a few nervy moments at the other end, with Jackie Burns denying Tamila Khimich as well as Apanaschenko’s free-kick and eventually smothering the ball after initially missing a corner ball.
NI Manager Kenny Shiels’ reaction after the game: “The outcome was very good, the performance was okay. They battled and we battled back. I thought we could have done more with the ball. I felt we weren’t as fluent as we have been but in the second leg we have a dangerous lead. It’s half time. We lead by a goal. We are ultra cautious of the expectations that might evolve from the result that we got. There’s a lot of work to do and I’m sure the players will give everything they have.
“If you look at tonight, the commitment, the courage, all of the things you expect in sport. I’m really looking forward to the next game but we have to be very, very careful. We did it by losing one of our top players again, so against the odds the girls dug in. We’re got a lead going into the second half so we’ve got to be careful and mentally strong.
“I felt we should have gone on, at 2-1, and got a third one but the legs were starting to go. We’re part time, they’re full time. This has thrown a spanner into the works because no-one can understand how a team with players who work in shops and hospitals, are here playing against professional footballers. It’s amazing what these girls are achieving.”
The return leg in Belfast is on Tuesday 13 April, kick off 7.45pm and live on BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and BBC Two NI.
Swiss level late on
There was a penalty scored by both sides as the Czech Republic drew 1-1 in their home leg with Switzerland.
Katerina Svitková gave the home team the lead four minutes into the second half but in the last seconds Ana Marie Crnogorčević equalised with a spot-kick.
Russia claim away win
Russia took a 1-0 lead in their 1st leg away to Portugal, Nelli Kovokina with the goal six minutes into the second half.