Ukraine too strong for Slove­nia in Euro play­off

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LVIV: Ukraine, who have never won a play­off for a ma­jor tour­na­ment fi­nals in five pre­vi­ous at­tempts, took a firm grip on their Euro 2016 qual­i­fy­ing tie with Slove­nia by win­ning the first leg 2-0 on Satur­day.

Winger An­driy Yar­molenko opened the scor­ing with a low shot into the far cor­ner of the net in the 22nd minute that sparked wild cel­e­bra­tions at a packed Lviv Arena. Yar­molenko also played a part in the sec­ond goal in the 54th minute, striker Yevhen Seleznyov con­vert­ing his cross to sup­ply the fin­ish­ing touch to a swift counter-at­tack.

Seleznyov could have added a third goal 15 min­utes later when he scuffed his shot when well-placed but Ukraine will still be in a strong po­si­tion in Tues­day’s sec­ond leg to book their ticket to the fi­nals in France. Slove­nia pro­vided lit­tle threat up front al­though Branko Ilic fired just over the bar from the edge of the penalty area in the first half fol­low­ing a clever header from Milivoje No­vakovic.

The visi­tors, bid­ding to re­peat their Euro 2000 play­off vic­tory over Ukraine, never looked like get­ting back into the game af­ter the break. Keeper Samir Han­danovic, cap­tain­ing Slove­nia, pro­duced a stun­ning save from a header by Denys Gam­rash be­fore Seleznyov struck the wood­work in the 69th minute. Ukraine coach Mykhaylo Fomenko warned his play­ers not to get car­ried away by the mar­gin of vic­tory.

Off­side claim

“We have only played the first leg.” he told na­tional tele­vi­sion. “We could have scored a third goal and I’m glad Slove­nia did not cap­i­talise on our mis­takes.

“I think my play­ers understand what they have to do and I should not need to find any ad­di­tional words (of mo­ti­va­tion) for the sec­ond leg.” Ukraine Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and Slove­nia coun­ter­part Borut Pa­hor watched the game from the stands.

“The Pres­i­dent greeted us in the dress­ing room af­ter and wished us good luck for the re­turn game,” said de­fender Evhen Khacheridi. Slove­nia coach Srecko Katanec, who was also at the helm for the Euro 2000 play­off, blamed the ref­eree for the sec­ond goal.

“We started off with pur­pose but couldn’t keep it go­ing,” he said. “I think the sec­ond goal was off­side so the luck was not on our side to­day. “The re­sult is hard for us but there is noth­ing im­pos­si­ble in foot­ball. We will do our best to snatch a win with the right score­line.” A minute’s si­lence was ob­served be­fore kick­off in mem­ory of the 129 peo­ple killed and 352 wounded dur­ing the at­tacks in Paris on Fri­day evening. — Reuters

LVIV: Ukraine’s Ser­hiy Ry­balka (L) vies with Slove­nia’s Milivoje No­vakovic (C) dur­ing the Euro 2016 play-off foot­ball match be­tween Ukraine and Slove­nia at the Arena Lviv sta­dium in Lviv on Satur­day. — AFP

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