Mark Temnycky –
Ukraine v Lithuania – Ukraine extended their unbeaten run in Euro 2020 Qualification Group B with a 2-0 victory over Lithuania. The Ukrainians have now won five games from a possible six, and have kept five clean sheets in six matches. Based on their results, the Zbirna are one step away from qualifying for next summer’s tournament.
Ukraine v Lithuania
Metalist Oblast Sports Complex, Kharkiv, Ukraine
October 11, 2019 – 19:45 BST, 20:45 CEST
Ukraine v Lithuania – Goals: 1-0 (Malinovskyi, 29’), 2-0 (Malinovskyi, 58’)
Lithuania Eliminated From European Contention
Lithuania’s 2-0 loss to Ukraine meant they have officially been eliminated from the 2020 European Championships. Throughout six matches, the Baltic state collected one point from a possible 18 and scored only four goals in this process. Their defense has also been abysmal, where they conceded 17 goals in six matches, and they failed to threaten most of their opposition. Given these results, it should not come as a shock that they were eliminated.
With two matches remaining, Lithuania may try to play spoiler as they take on Serbia and Portugal on Matchdays 7 and 8. It is unlikely they will earn a result in either fixture, but stranger things have happened.
Ukraine’s Youth Delivers
Ukraine secured a 2-0 victory over Lithuania on Matchday 6, courtesy of a Ruslan Malinovskyi brace. The midfielder has now scored three goals in six qualification matches, and he has continued to deliver on the international stage.
Malinovskyi’s brace means he is now tied with Viktor Tsygankov as Ukraine’s top goal-scorer in qualification Group B. Striker Roman Yaremchuk has also scored two goals in six, meaning Ukraine’s youth have continued to deliver during this qualification period. Critics may argue Ukraine have only earned strong victories over the likes of Luxembourg and Lithuania, but all points are needed to ensure qualification for next summer’s tournament.
Ukraine Need One Point From Six
Ukraine’s victory over Lithuania means the Zbirna remain at the top of Group B, where they earned 16 points from a possible 18. They drew their opening fixture against Portugal on Matchday 1, but have since won all five of their fixtures. Their defense kept five clean sheets in six games, particularly against Portugal and Serbia, and the Zbirna’s offensive unit scored 13 goals. Simply put, the Zbirna have put on a strong performance in Group B.
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With two matches remaining, Ukraine have essentially qualified for Euro 2020, but they cannot be complacent. They will host a robust Portuguese side on Matchday 7 before traveling to Serbia on Matchday 8. Given the current standings in the table, Ukraine will need one point from a possible six to qualify for the tournament. While this is easier said than done, it should be noted Ukraine held Portugal to a goalless draw in March while the Zbirna also routed Serbia 5-0 in June. Given their previous results, and depending on their performance against the Navigators on Matchday 7, the Zbirnamay qualify for the Euros with one match to spare. This would be a remarkable achievement.
Ukraine v Lithuania – Lineups:
Pyatov – Bolbat, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Sobol – Stepanenko (Sydorchuk, 73’) – Yarmolenko (Tsygankov, 64’), Zinchenko, Malinovskyi, Marlos (Konoplyanka, 59’) – Moraes
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Černiauskas – Mikoliūnas, Klimavičius, Girdvainis, Andriuškevičius (Šimkus, 62’) – Vorobjovas, Verbickas – Novikovas, Žulpa, Golubickas (Lasickas, 73’) – Laukžemis (Matulevičius, 77)
Manager: Valdas Urbonas
Mark Temnycky is an accredited AIPS journalist who reports on the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Outside of the Futbolgrad Network, he covers Manchester City for SB Nation’s Bitter and Blue. Follow him @MTemnycky