Win silences Northern Ireland doubters, McAuley claims

Northern Ireland head coach Michael O'Neill celebrates after Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn scores their second goal

The veteran became the second-oldest player to ever score at a European Championship and claims there is more to come from his side.

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley celebrates after scoring their first goalNorthern Ireland's Gareth McAuley celebrates after scoring their first goal

Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley has told ITV that his side's impressive 2-0 win over Ukraine on Thursday has gone some way to silencing their Euro 2016 critics.

The West Bromwich Albion veteran headed home to break the deadlock shortly after half-time, while a first ever win at a European Championship was wrapped up deep into stoppage time through Niall McGinn.

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley scores their first goalNorthern Ireland's Gareth McAuley scores their first goal

At the age of 36, McAuley is the second-oldest player Euros scorer ever, and he believes the Green and White Army "had a point to prove" following a disappointing defeat to Poland in their Group C opener.

Michael O'Neill's men still have a tough final game with world champions Germany to navigate in order to be sure of qualification, but McAuley insists they will pay little attention to their doubters.

Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn celebrates after scoring their second goalNorthern Ireland's Niall McGinn celebrates after scoring their second goal

He told ITV: "We've a tough game ahead but we are delighted [with the win]. Lots of people were saying we wouldn't get a point.

"We thought we let ourselves down with the intensity we played at [against Poland]. We just didn't get that right. We weren't at it against Poland, not to your standards.

"The lads will take confidence from this because we had been written off."

Northern Ireland head coach Michael O'Neill celebrates after Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn scores their second goalNorthern Ireland head coach Michael O'Neill celebrates after Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn scores their second goal

McAuley's strike was Northern Ireland's first at a European Championship for 30 years, but while happy to have got his side up and running, the former Ipswich Town man insists the focus should be on the overall effort of his team.

Talking about the goal he said: "It's special. It will sink in over the next few days.

"But it was the team performance that was pleasing, the reaction after getting beaten by Poland and now we’ve got a tough game to look forward to now."

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