Belfast Telegraph

Jim Magilton's Northern Ireland under-21s still without a win in Euro qualifiers

Northern Ireland 1 - Ukraine 2

By Stuart McKinley

It was groundhog day for Northern Ireland under-21s as they lost for the fourth time in five games in their European Championship qualifying campaign.

While the senior team is off to France next summer, their under-21 counterparts experienced a case of deja vu as once again they took the lead, but failed to hold on for victory.

They suffered the same fate earlier in the group against Scotland, Iceland and Macedonia and are now bottom of the table with just a single point from five matches.

Jim Magilton's boys had looked like ending their search for a win when, after finishing the first half strongly they were also on top immediately after the break and after Lewis Maloney and Robbie McDaid went close, Shea McCartan put them in front on 53 minutes.

He cut inside from the right wing and his stunning shot flew past Ukraine goalkeeper Bohdan Sarnavskiy.

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The Accrington Stanley front man went close to doubling the lead five minutes later, but he shot over the bar.

Ukraine were level on 64 minutes when Viktor Kovalenko fired across Connor Brennan and into the corner of the net.

The Shakhtar Donetsk striker, who has Champions League experience, then won the game with a sweet volley on 73 minutes that gave Brennan no chance.

Northern Ireland: Brennan, Dummigan, McCullough, Doherty, Conlan, Maloney, McKnight, McCartan, McDaid, Whyte, Duffy. Subs: Mitchell, Glendinning, McCawl, Cooper, Sharpe, Stewart, McDonagh.

Ukraine: Sarnavskiy, Danchenko, Duts, Svatok, Sobol,Zinchenko, Myshnov, Luchkevych, Yurchenko, Kovalenko, Khlyobas.Subs: Bushchan, Chumak, Burda, Bezborodko, Miroshnichenko, Filimonov, Kacharaba.

Referee: Ognjen Valjic (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

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