ATHENS (Reuters) – Northern Ireland’s fairytale start to Euro 2016 qualifying continued in sensational style on Tuesday as Michael O’Neill’s side stunned former champions Greece 2-0 at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Athens.
The visitors were left celebrating their third straight victory thanks to goals from Jamie Ward and Kyle Lafferty and, sitting top of Group F, are starting to dream of reaching their first major championship finals since the Mexico World Cup of 1986.
The Irish took a deserved early lead in the ninth minute through Ward’s strike with Lafferty adding the decider in superb fashion on the counter-attack six minutes after halftime.
The victory piles the pressure on Claudio Ranieri’s side, who are second bottom of the group as Northern Ireland move two points clear of Romania at the top.
For Greece, who were favourites to win the group when the draw was made, it is the worst start to a qualifying campaign since Euro 2004, when they lost their opening two games before eventually qualifying and going on to win the tournament.