08/10/2015 Belfast Greece 3-1 Steven Davis (2), Josh Magennis
Michael McGovern, Paddy McNair (Luke McCullough), Gareth McAuley, Craig Cathcart, Chris Brunt, Jamie Ward, (Niall McGinn), Oliver Norwood, Corry Evans, Steven Davis, Stuart Dallas, Josh Magennis (Liam Boyce)
Northern Ireland qualified for the Euro 2016 finals in France with a game to spare by beating Greece 3-1 on a brilliant night at Windsor Park. They would go on to win the group after the final group match against Finland which finished 1-1 becoming the first ever 5th seeds to top a qualifying group!
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.
Northern Ireland fans had endured 14 unsuccessful qualifying campaigns since then, but those repeated disappointments made Thursday night’s celebrations all the sweeter.
It was a first international goal for Josh Magennis, who played for Northern Ireland as a goalkeeper at Under-17 level.
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.
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 Ireland
McGinn, Lafferty (scorers)
11 October 2014 – Northern Ireland 2-0 Faroe Islands
14 October 2014 – Greece 0-2 Northern Ireland
14 November 2014 – Romania 2-0 Northern Ireland
29 March 2015 – Northern Ireland 2-1 Finland
13 June 2015 – Northern Ireland 0-0 Romania
4 September 2015 – Faroe Islands 1-3 Northern Ireland
McAuley 2, Lafferty
7 September 2015 – Northern Ireland 1-1 Hungary
8 October 2015 – Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece
Davis 2, Magennis
11 October 2015 – Finland 1-1 Northern Ireland
08/10/1955 Belfast Scotland 2-1 Jackie Blanchflower, Billy Bingham
Norman Uprichard, Len Graham, Willie Cunningham, Danny Blanchflower, Terry McCavana, Bertie Peacock, Billy Bingham, Jackie Blanchflower, Fay Coyle, Jimmy McIlroy, Peter McParland