Ukraine v Northern Ireland – team news & preview

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty cut a frustrated figure against Poland.

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty recorded just one shot against Poland

BBC coverage

How to follow:
Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; text commentary on the BBC Sport website

TEAM NEWS

Ukraine are likely to persist with their trusted 4-2-3-1 formation.

Veteran midfielder Ruslan Rotan is an option should they opt for more experience – he played eight times in qualifying.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is expected to make changes to the side beaten by Poland.

Conor Washington or Jamie Ward could be recalled to support Kyle Lafferty, who played as a lone striker against Poland. Stuart Dallas may also start.

MATCH PREVIEW

When the groups were drawn for Euro 2016, this is the fixture both Northern Ireland and Ukraine would have looked at as their best chance for recording a win. Defeats to Poland and Germany will only have enhanced those views.

Northern Ireland stat<!–

The story of Northern Ireland’s defeat to Poland, which ended their record 12-game unbeaten run, can be summed up in one stat: Kyle Lafferty, their seven-goal top scorer in qualifying, made two defensive clearances, one more than the number of shots he managed.

Ukraine can at least concentrate on the rest of the group stage knowing that Germany are out of the way. The Ukrainians are ranked 19th in the Fifa rankings, higher than Northern Ireland (25) and neighbours Poland (27), who they meet in their final game.

Northern Ireland’s players are expected to wear black armbands in memory of supporter Darren Rodgers, 24, who died in the early hours of Monday morning after accidentally falling from a wall.

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Northern Ireland have never beaten Ukraine in four attempts (D2, L2).
  • Ukraine did the double over Northern Ireland in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup.
  • Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill came off the bench in the 1-0 defeat in Belfast.
  • Current Ukraine assistant coach Andriy Shevchenko scored in their 2-1 win in Kiev.

Ukraine

  • Ukraine are playing at their second European Championship. They co-hosted Euro 2012 and qualified this time round via a play-off success against Slovenia. It was their first play-off win at the sixth attempt.
  • They had 12 corners against Germany – only Spain, with 14, won more in the opening round of fixtures.
  • Defeat against Germany ended Ukraine’s six-game unbeaten run, which included five wins.
  • Thirteen goals have been scored in Ukraine’s last three fixtures.

Northern Ireland

  • Northern Ireland are competing at their first European Championship. They have not played at a major final tournament since bowing out of the 1986 World Cup at the group stage.
  • Their record breaking 12-game unbeaten run came to an end against Poland (W6, D6).
  • Their previous defeat was a 1-0 friendly defeat to Scotland in March 2015. That was also the last time they suffered back-to-back losses.
  • Michael O’Neill’s men have conceded only once in four games – Arkadiusz Milik’s goal for Poland last time out.

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