Euro 2016: Hailstorm halts Northern Ireland vs. Ukraine tie

    Story highlights

    • Northern Ireland defeats Ukraine 2-0
    • Hailstorm temporarily forces players off field
    • N. Ireland playing first tournament since 1986
    • Ukraine defeated in both Euro 2016 matches

    (CNN)A fierce hailstorm led to Northern Ireland's game with Ukraine being temporarily suspended Thursday.

    The interruption, which came in the second half of Northern Ireland's 2-0 victory, lasted a couple of minutes before the players returned to the field.
      Czech referee Pavel Kralovec was forced to take the players off just shy of the hour mark as hail rained down in Lyon.
      The players returned soon after, some having changed their shirts after being left soaked through by the torrential rain which had preceded the hailstorm.
      The teams were forced off the field during the hailstorm.
      The wet weather did little to quell the enthusiasm of the estimated 20,000 Northern Irish supporters who celebrated its first victory at a major tournament since the 1-0 win over Spain at the 1986 World Cup.
      Gareth McAuley's second half header and Niall McGinn's late strike gave Northern Ireland a famous victory and kept alive its hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase of the competition.
      Northern Ireland and Ukraine both suffered defeat in their opening games.
      Northern Ireland, playing at its first ever European Championship finals, arrived in France boasting a 12-match unbeaten run.
      Not since 1986, when it exited the World Cup at the group stage, has it competed in an international tournament.
      A 1-0 defeat by Poland in its opening game was not wholly unexpected but the performance, which was perceived as negative, was enough to persuade coach Michael O'Neill to make five changes.
      And while the first half performance may not have led to the creation of numerous chances, it did at least give plenty of reason for encouragement.
      Ukraine, which had gone six games without defeat before losing 2-0 to world champion Germany, appeared troubled by the pace and movement of its opponent.
      After a tight and turgid first half in which both teams struggled to play their best football in the torrential rain, the game sparked into life.
      It took just four minutes for Northern Ireland to make the breakthrough -- McAuley heading home Norwood's free-kick from eight yards.
      McAuley celebrated his country's first goal at a major tournament for 30 years.
      Ukraine, which had yet to lose to Northern Ireland in its four previous meetings, came close to an instant reply when Yevhen Seleznyov sent a fierce header towards goal only for Michael McGovern to produce a fine save.
      The incessant rain was causing both sets of players plenty of problems with Ukraine in particular struggling to defend set pieces.
      But just as Northern Ireland was beginning to take the initiative, hail stones began to fall, leading referee Kralovec to temporarily suspend proceedings.
      The players were forced off the field after a hailstorm in Lyon.
      The storm soon relented and Ukraine began to find some rhythm as it pushed for a way back into the contest.
      Andriy Yarmolenko's fierce drive forced McGovern into a a fine save as Northern Ireland began to drop deeper and deeper.
      Six minutes of stoppage time ensued as Ukraine began to turn the screw with Yevhen Konoplyanka firing wide of the post.
      But with Ukraine pushing for an equalizer, the green shirts poured forward and McGinn thumped home from close range to seal the win.

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