Cyprus earned their first points in 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 9 with a comfortable victory in Nicosia, condemning Northern Ireland to an opening-match defeat in the process.
Savvas Paraskevas' men had kicked off the section with a 2-0 reverse in Belgium but responded emphatically as a first-half effort from Onisiforos Roushias was fortified after the interval through Zacharias Theodorou and Pieros Sotiriou.
The hosts nearly leapt in front three minutes in when Dimitris Moulazimis struck the post and Roushias' follow-up up was well saved by Ross Glendinning. However, the visiting No1 was beaten after 19 minutes when Sotiriou launched a counterattack and teed up Roushias to fire in.
Northern Ireland enjoyed the majority of possession but failed to translate ball retention into goals and they were undone again just shy of the hour when Nikos Englezou's long throw was cleared into the path of Theodorou, who drilled in a low effort.
Ten minutes later the victory was secured when a cross by Moulazimis was repelled to Sotiriou and the captain made no mistake with a well-executed volley. Cyprus head to Serbia on 5 September for their next contest while Northern Ireland travel to Belgium four days later.
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