Mark Temnycky –
Ukraine v Serbia – Ukraine took a commanding lead in Euro 2020 Qualification Group B with a magnificent 5-0 victory against Serbia. The Zbirna have earned seven points from a possible nine in their opening three matches, and now the Ukrainians sit firmly at the top of Group B.
Ukraine v Serbia
Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine
7 June 2019 – 19:45 BST, 20:45 CEST
Ukraine v Serbia – Goals: 1-0 (Tsygankov, 26’), 2-0 (Tsygankov, 28’), 3-0 (Konoplyanka, 46’), 4-0 (Yaremchuk, 59’), 5-0 (Konoplyanka, 75’)
Viktor Tsygankov is coming of age
Following Ukraine’s doubleheader against Portugal and Luxembourg, it became apparent the Zbirna lacked a quality attacking player in Andriy Yarmolenko’s absence. Ukraine had stolen a point on the road against Portugal and avoided an embarrassing result in Luxembourg, but playmaker Yevhen Konoplyanka was often closed down too quickly, thus limiting his team’s attacking options.
The fixture against Serbia, however, was much different. During an entertaining match of free-flowing, attacking football, the Zbirna found themselves ahead through Viktor Tsygankov. The young midfielder collected a cross from full back Oleksandr Karavayev, and beat Serbian goalkeeper Marko Dmitrović with a low strike. Two minutes later, Tsygankov scored his second via a powerful, curling shot from twenty yards out.
Tsygankov, who was selected in the starting line-up to replace the injured Yarmolenko, has now scored three goals in the past two games for Ukraine in this Euro 2020 qualification period. The young midfielder well does a job.
Ukraine remain undefeated at Arena Lviv
Since its construction in 2011, the Ukrainian men’s national team have played 13 matches at the Arena Lviv. During this period, the Zbirna won 11 games and drew 2. To this day, Ukraine have not lost a game at this venue. Moreover, in the 13 matches, they have played at this stadium, the Ukrainians have outscored their opponents by a scoreline of 29-4. These numbers are simply staggering.
Ukraine will play their next qualification match on Monday, June 10 against Luxembourg, where the Arena Lviv will once again play host. Should the Zbirna replicate their form from today’s fixture, they will surely put themselves in a commanding lead in Euro 2020 qualification Group B.
A strong start, but no time for complacency
Ukraine earned two victories and one draw in their opening three matches against Portugal, Luxembourg and Serbia in Group B. During this period, they kept two clean sheets and outscored their opponents 7-1.
Ukraine’s next three fixtures in Group B are against Luxembourg and a double header against Lithuania. On paper, the Ukrainians have a stronger side than Luxembourg or Lithuania. Should the Zbirnacollect the maximum nine points from these upcoming three fixtures, they could potentially qualify for the 2020 European Championships with two matches to spare. This is a remarkable achievement and shows how much they have progressed as a national team under Andriy Shevchenko’s managerial tenure.
Now is not the time to be complacent, however. The Zbirnawere nearly shocked on the road against Luxembourg, and the Ukrainians needed a last minute own goal to steal all three points. Therefore, they cannot underestimate their upcoming opponents. Otherwise, commanding lead Ukraine have established in Group B could easily slip.
Ukraine v Serbia – Line-ups
Pyatov – Karavayev, Krivtsov, Matvyenko, Mykolenko – Malinovskiy, Stepanenko (Shepelev, 72’) – Tsygankov, Zinchenko, Konoplyanka (Kovalenko, 76’) – Yaremchuk (Kravets, 67’)
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Dmitrović – Milenković, Spajić, Kolarov – Gaćinović, Ljajić (Fejsa, 60’), Tadić, Maksimović, Kostić – Jović (Lazović, 72’), Prijović (Mitrović, 53’)
Manager: Mladen Krstajić
Mark Temnycky 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 @MTem33