Match Analysis: Greece 0-2 Northern Ireland

Sports Mole takes a closer look at Northern Ireland's historic 2-0 win away to Greece in Athens.

Goals from Jamie Ward and Kyle Lafferty helped Northern Ireland to a historic 2-0 win away to Greece in their Euro 2016 qualifier tonight.

The visitors went into the clash searching for a third straight competitive win for the first time in their history, and moved ahead through Ward after just nine minutes.

Lafferty doubled the advantage with a fine solo effort in the second half to seal the historic victory and maintain Northern Ireland's 100% record in Group F.

Below, Sports Mole has a closer look at what proved a memorable night for Michael O'Neill's side.

Northern Ireland's midfielder Kyle Lafferty celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 group F qualifying gootball match between Greece and Northern Ireland at the Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus, near Athens, on October 14, 20© Getty Images

Match statistics

GREECE

Shots: 9
On target: 2
Possession: 69%
Corners: 2
Fouls: 14

NORTHERN IRELAND

Shots: 4
On target: 2
Possession: 31%
Corners: 3
Fouls: 13

Was the result fair?

Undoubtedly so, yes. Don't be fooled by the above statistics; for all their possession, Greece lacked the creativity to utilise their perceived dominance correctly and Northern Ireland would still boast that clean sheet had the full-time whistle sounded at midnight.

Greece's performance

Despite boasting plenty of possession - particularly in the second half - the Greece forward line was nowhere near sharp enough to carve out openings for themselves and they deservedly left the field to a chorus of boos by the home support after a lifeless performance. Can they turn it around? The top seeds in Group F now sit eight points adrift of leaders Northern Ireland and, much like parts of Athens, their hopes of automatic qualification now looks to be in ruins.

Northern Ireland's performance

The questions leading up to this one were centered around whether or not Northern Ireland could win three successive qualifiers for the first time in their history. The answer was an emphatic 'yes' as Michael O'Neill's side deservedly took the lead and, through a combination of stubborn defending and an insipid Greece attack, never looked like relinquishing their advantage. Future outings against Romania and Finland should hold no fear for the Northern Irish after beating the top seeds in Group F tonight.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Kyle Lafferty: Lafferty will sleep well on the flight home following an energetic performance as Northern Ireland's spearhead tonight. Often isolated as the focal point and reduced to chasing shadows, the Norwich City forward kept enough in reserve to ghost away from Kostas Stafylidis from the halfway line and finish past Orestis Karnezis to give his side the all-important second. It was a fine goal, and just desserts for a player that had tormented Roma defender and reported Arsenal target Kostas Manoloas regularly in the first half. Lafferty has a big role to play as Northern Ireland look to qualify for their first ever major tournament.

Biggest gaffe

It is a game of fine margins and things might well have been different for Greece had Nikos Karelis kept his cool with a first-half opportunity. Instead, the 22-year-old, one on one with Roy Carroll, fluffed his lines and attempted to clip it over the Northern Irish goalkeeper, missing the chance to provide a swift riposte to Jamie Ward's opener. It could, and should, have been the equaliser.

Referee performance

French referee Stephane Lannoy will not want to hang around Athens for too long, having infuriated the home supporters on several occasions by turning down penalty appeals which, in his defence, looked to be the correct decisions. Lannoy did seem to bow under the intense pressure by issuing Lafferty a yellow card for what looked a very innocuous challenge, though.

What next?

Greece: The Greeks are back here in Athens this date next month for the clash with Faroe Islands.

Northern Ireland: O'Neill's side face another tricky away trip for the visit to Romania on November 14.

Northern Ireland's midfielder Kyle Lafferty celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 group F qualifying gootball match between Greece and Northern Ireland at the Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus, near Athens, on October 14, 20
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