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Ukraine, shining and united, tames Scotland and dreams of Qatar

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For its first match since the start of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian football team won in Glasgow against Scotland on Wednesday (1-3), in the semi-final of the 2022 World Cup play-offs. Ukraine will aim to qualify against Wales on June 5.

The Ukraine football team gave their war-torn nation a little hope by beating Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow. With this superb performance, the Yellows and Blues obtained their ticket for the final of the qualifying play-offs for the next World Cup. They are only 90 minutes away, or more in the event of extra time, or even penalties, from Qatar. But to get there, it will be necessary to beat Wales in Cardiff, Sunday June 5th.

From what we saw in Glasgow, there are reasons to believe it, as the Ukrainians seemed superior to the Scots who generally missed out on this big meeting, despite a but which gave them hope at ten minutes from the end.

Ukrainians united and offensive

The emotion had already been palpable during the pre-match press conferences on Tuesday, like the tears of Manchester City side Oleksander Zinchenko. The Ukrainian anthem, just before kick-off, set the tone for a special evening. Wrapped in their country’s flag, the Ukrainian players sang their hearts out, accompanied by scores of supporters in the stands, many of whom were waving flags or placards calling for peace.

But once the kick-off was given, the players of coach Oleksandr Petrakov nevertheless had their heads in the field, while their opponents seemed paralyzed by the challenge. After several heroic saves by Scottish goalkeeper Craig Gordon, the Ukrainians logically opened the score by Andriy Yarmolenko, who went to the limit of offside. The striker left free by West Ham a few days ago, at the end of his contract, perfectly controlled the ball at the entrance to the surface and magnificently dosed his lob above the doorman to cool Hampden Park ( 0 -1, 33e).

Upon returning from the locker room, we expected the reaction of the locals who had promised not to be softened by their empathy towards the situation of their hosts. But it was the visitors who hit the nail on the head, Roman Yaremchuk skillfully heading in a cross to double the lead (0-2, 49e).

Ukrainian striker Andriy Yarmolenko celebrating his goal against Scotland on June 1, 2022. © Russell Cheyne, Reuters

See you in Cardiff on Sunday

The Scots ended up rebelling, but too clumsily. John McGinn inexplicably missed the target with a header 6 meters from the goal line, before seeing his recovery blocked, after a first shot from Che Adams repelled by the Ukrainian goalkeeper, Georgi Bushchan (76e). The same Bushchan was not exempt from any reproach by having a weak hand on a strike from Conor McGregor which for a time revived the hopes of the Scots (1-2, 79e).

But the desperate attacks on the goal of the Ukrainians, during the last minutes, were far too disorderly and remained generally not very dangerous. And after having badly exchanged some promising counterattacks, the Ukrainians ended up killing the match thanks to Artem Dovbyk, who started on the verge of offside to close the scoring (1-3, 90+4).

The Scots will see their wait extended by four years since their last World Cup in 1998, while at the heart of the war against the Russian invaders, the Ukrainians offered themselves a small spark of hope and dream, in four days, in Cardiff. The Ukrainian selection hopes to play the second World Cup in its history, after the 2006 edition in Germany where it climbed to the quarter-finals.


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