Ukraine keep World Cup dream alive with emotional win in Scotland

Victory at Hampden sets up final showdown with Wales for a place in Qatar

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Ukraine’s emotional quest to qualify for the World Cup amid the ongoing troubles with Russia moved a step closer with a 3-1 win over Scotland in a pulsating playoff semi-final.

Ukraine now face Wales in Cardiff on Sunday with the winners taking a place in November's finals in Qatar, in a group against England, the United States and Iran.

Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko told Sky Sports after the win: "Every game for us now is like a final. We have one more and we need to win it - we need to take it or this won't mean anything.

"We scored three goals, we could've scored even more. [Sunday] is going to be a massive game for us. We need to show the best performance of our lives."

Ukraine dominated for a deserved victory though they had to resist a Scotland revival after a 79th minute goal from Callum McGregor, before substitute Artem Dovbyk broke clear to score with the last kick of the game.

Ukraine, backed by 3,500 fans, put in a slick display despite starting with six players who have not played a competitive game in 2022.

Most of Ukraine’s squad play for home-based clubs whose league was shut down after Russia's invasion, and the playoff in Glasgow was postponed in March. FIFA and Scotland agreed to give the Ukrainian team a fair chance to prepare for games that have become a focus of national identity and pride.

Scotland lacked the class needed and their wait for World Cup action now extends beyond the 24 years since they went to the 1998 tournament.

Ukraine's win could have been sealed earlier but for saves early and often by 39-year-old Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon. When the Scots tried to find a way back into the game, John McGinn placed a 67th-minute header inexplicably wide from close range.

The Ukrainian players all walked on to the field with their blue and yellow national flag draped on their shoulders.

The warm welcome saw Ukraine’s national anthem “Shche ne vmerla Ukrainas” applauded loudly by Scotland fans.

Updated: June 01, 2022, 9:13 PM
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