Belfast Telegraph

Hungary 1 - 2 Northern Ireland: Michael O'Neill's men off to a winning start in Euro 2016 campaign

Kyle Lafferty and Niall McGinn were the scorers as Northern Ireland marked the ninth anniversary of their famous victory over England by grabbing a dramatic 2-1 win in their Euro 2016 opener in Hungary.

September 7 will always be a special day for Northern Ireland and ever more so after Lafferty bundled home the scrappiest, most ecstatic finish of his career to give his side a first away success in four long years.

Hungary had looked set to take the points on their first outing at the new Groupama Arena when former Watford striker Tamas Priskin headed home a 74th-minute corner but two goals in the last 10 minutes for the visitors ripped up the script.

With 15 minutes still to play the opener arrived.

Lovrencsics saw his shot charged down by Brunt but Hungary ensured the resulting corner paid dividends.

Dzsudzsak whipped in a wonderful set-piece and, with the dominant figure of McAuley absent, Northern Ireland allowed Priskin to get the critical header in a packed six-yard box.

They might easily have buckled but instead they mustered an equaliser just six minutes later.

Huge credit goes to Lafferty for his part, coming deep for the ball before navigating a roundabout way past the Hungary backline.

When he opened his legs he quickly found a route into the penalty box, skipping one final challenge before measuring a pass across goal for McGinn to tap home unmarked.

A point would have been a decent return on their day's work but McGinn had other ideas, collecting Evans' clever pass and looking for Lafferty at the back post.

The finish was hardly elegant but for Northern Ireland it could not have been sweeter.

The Northern Ireland manager gambled with a change of formation for his side's European Championship qualifying Group F opener against Hungary.

Having gone with a 3-5-2 formation in recent matches, O'Neill reverted to four at the back, with West Brom midfielder Chris Brunt drafted in as an emergency left-back and Fleetwood's Conor McLaughlin making his first competitive start on the right.

Striker Kyle Lafferty was also restored to the starting XI having missed the summer tour of South America.

Hungary, playing for the first time at the new Groupama Arena, were without injured midfielder Zoltan Gera and picked former Liverpool reserve team goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi ahead of Bolton's Adam Bogdan.

Northern Ireland had a sniff of goal in just the fourth minute, Lafferty winning the battle for Chris Baird's cross and turning the ball deftly into the path of Jamie Ward.

However, the Derby man had more time than he thought and his snatched attempt scuttled tamely into the turf before bobbling through to Gulacsi.

The hosts responded in kind almost immediately, breaking down the right wing through Adam Gyurcso, who found Balazs Dzsudzsak arriving in the box. He aimed a first time effort towards the far post but saw it squirm wide.

Hungary were taking their time to settle in their new surroundings but again looked dangerous when Zoltan Liptak's floated pass found Gyurcso in space for the second time.

He controlled the ball well and cut it towards goal but Brunt was on hand to beat the red shirts to the punch.

Ward almost got a chance at the other end with 15 minutes gone, pick-pocketing Liptak in the box but being tackled before he could get a shot away.

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