Ukraine put their disappointment at not qualifying for the World Cup behind them on Wednesday as they kicked off their UEFA Nations League with victory against the Republic of Ireland. Ukraine won 1-0.
Ukraine were beaten by Wales in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier final, but they proved to be the better team against Ireland. A free-kick goal from midfielder Viktor Tsygankov sealed the three points for the war-torn nation.
Ukraine nearly took the lead on a counterattack late in the first half when Taras Kacharaba found the back of the net with a superb half-volley from outside the box, but the effort was ruled out for offside in the build-up.
Tsygankov came on at halftime and had an instant impact when his curling free kick missed everyone, bounced past the keeper and into the corner of the net.
The loss left Ireland bottom of the group. In their first match, they suffered a defeat against Armenia.
The Irish FA had distributed 3,500 tickets to Ukrainian refugees for this match played in Dublin. There were other blue and yellow pockets around Aviva Stadium.
“It’s a very difficult time. The Ukrainians who came to see us play in Ireland were accepted by the incredible hospitality and the Irish people,” said Petrakov.
“You brought back our women and children who were risking their lives in Ukraine. I want to thank the whole island,” he said, referring to Ukrainian refugees in Ireland.
“Those Ukrainians in the stands just wanted to see some positivity from the team, but they really want to go home to Ukraine.
“We made them a little happier tonight. That’s the biggest achievement in my opinion.”
(With agency contributions)
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Post expires at 2:47am on Sunday June 19th, 2022