You wait 30 years for a goal in a major finals and the gods intervene.
With Northern Ireland players and supporters alike were still celebrating Gareth McAuley’s towering header against Ukraine on Thursday, the heavy rain that had affected the Group C match from kick-off turned torrential, with small hailstones filling the playing surface.
Czech referee Pavel Kralovec wasted no time in taking the players off the Stade de Lyon to the sanctuary of the dressing rooms, with 56 minutes showing on the stadium clock.
As the players towelled off and changed their shirts, supporters remaining exposed to the elements made light of the conditions, taking off their shirts and dancing and singing in the rain.
Play was resumed less than three minutes later, Kralovec seemingly pleased that the worst of the weather had passed.
The interruption came seven minutes after McAuley had headed the ‘boys in green’ ahead with a towering effort from Oliver Norwood’s free-kick – Northern Ireland’s first-ever goal at a European Championship finals.
Niall McGinn later added a second to seal a superb 2-0 victory for Northern Ireland.
Television companies appeared confused by the interruption too, with ITV screening the match to British audiences without a clock or scoreboard for large swathes of the second half.
Viewers were left confused and horrified by the lack of timepiece:
The match was not the first Euros match in recent years to be affected by the weather.
Ukraine were again affected four years ago, their group match with France, on home soil in Donetsk, halted for an hour as torrential rain flooded parts of the stands and soaked the pitch, with thunder and lightning also in the air.
England’s World Cup qualifier against Poland in Warsaw in October 2012 was delayed by 24 hours following heavy rain, with Roy Hodgson’s side forced to return the following afternoon to secure a point with a 1-1 draw.
The Three Lions were also taken off the field mid-match in June 2014, a World Cup warm-up match against Honduras halted for 40 minutes due to a local lightning storm.
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