On 7 May, Ukrainian veteran goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov announced that he would retire from international duty after the 2020 European Championships. To date, Pyatov has 96 appearances with the senior men’s national team. He is currently Ukraine’s captain.
Pyatov made his debut with the senior men’s national team in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification match when Ukraine faced Belarus. The Ukrainians defeated the Belarusians 1-0, and Pyatov earned his first clean sheet. He has since gone on to have a remarkable career, where he helped Ukraine qualify for the 2016 and 2020 European Championships. Pyatov was also in goal when Ukraine won their group in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.
What have been some memorable moments for Pyatov during his time as Ukraine’s number one?
2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Senior Debut
Pyatov made his international debut on 6 September 2008 when Ukraine faced Belarus in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The Shakhtar Donetsk goalkeeper kept a clean sheet in the match, and he played an essential role throughout Ukraine’s qualification campaign. The Ukrainian national team recorded six clean sheets in 10 qualification matches.
Ukraine would advance to the playoff stage, the second qualification round. Pyatov put in a solid performance in the first leg that ended in a 0-0 draw. The Ukrainians would fall short in the tie, however, as Greece won the second match 1-0. Despite Ukraine’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, Pyatov demonstrated that he could perform at the top level of international football.
2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Ukraine Fall Just Short of Qualifying
Four years later, Pyatov had another series of strong performances as Ukraine tried to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. During the qualification campaign, Ukraine only conceded four goals in 10 qualification matches. He kept six clean sheets in 10 games, and his defensive heroics helped Ukraine finish second in their qualification group ahead of group rivals Montenegro and Poland. Ukraine nearly won the group, but they finished one point behind England and were forced to play in the second-round playoffs.
Pyatov was instrumental in the tie’s first leg, where Ukraine won 2-0 at home against France. The Ukrainian goalkeeper made several crucial saves against Olivier Giroud, Samir Nasri, Frank Ribéry, and Paul Pogba. The second leg, however, was shambolic. Ukraine played timid football, where Les Bleus leveled the time in the first half of the match. Yevhen Khacheridi’s sending off and Oleh Husyev’s own goal in the second half saw Ukraine lose 3-0 in the second leg. Ukraine lost 3-2 on aggregate and failed to qualify again for the World Cup.
2016 European Championship Qualifiers – Ukraine Overcome Playoff Curse
Pyatov’s defensive performance continued throughout the EURO 2016 qualifiers. The Ukrainian goalkeeper kept six clean sheets in 10 qualification matches. Despite these impressive results, Ukraine finished in third. The Ukrainians struggled against group rivals Spain and Slovakia. Due to their struggles in front of goal, the Ukrainians were forced to compete in the playoff round.
They would overcome their playoff curse, and they had Pyatov to thank. During the first leg of the tie, Ukraine defeated Slovenia 2-0 at home. Pyatov made a series of saves, and Ukraine’s offensive line took a comfortable lead into the second leg. While Slovenia would score early in the second leg, Pyatov remained composed in front of goal, and his defensive heroics helped Ukraine defeat Slovenia 3-1 on aggregate. Ukraine would then qualify for their first international competition through the playoffs, something they had not managed to do throughout the history of Ukrainian football.
2018/19 UEFA Nations League – Ukraine Win League B Group
One of Pyatov’s most impressive performances, however, came during the inaugural UEFA Nations League. During the competition, Ukraine were paired with Slovakia and Czechia. The Zbirna would win their first three games by an aggregate score of 4-1, and Pyatov kept two clean sheets in three matches against two very strong opponents. The three consecutive victories meant that Ukraine would be promoted to the competition’s League A, and they were guaranteed at least a playoff spot in the EURO 2020 qualification campaign.
The performances in the autumn of 2018 would be the precursor to Ukraine’s best-ever international campaign. Ukraine had finally started to perform well defensively, and the offense began to click.
2020 European Championship Qualifiers – Ukraine’s Historic Run
Pyatov’s best period in Ukraine’s goal came during the EURO 2020 qualification campaign, as well as the 2019 calendar year. The Zbirna were paired with Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg, and Lithuania. During the qualification campaign, Portugal, Serbia, and Luxembourg provided several challenges for the Ukrainians. Nonetheless, they prevailed. Pyatov would earn five clean sheets in eight matches and conceded four goals in three games. An important note, however, was that one of the goals conceded was a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. Two of the remaining three goals then came in Ukraine’s final qualification match against Serbia, where Ukraine already qualified for the European Championships and won their group.
Outside of the qualifiers, Ukraine went undefeated throughout the entire 2019 calendar year. While Pyatov played a majority of these matches, Andriy Lunin also received some credit during his performances in goal. Between the two of them, Pyatov and Lunin only conceded a total of six goals across 10 matches, and they kept six clean sheets in 10 games. As a result of these strong defensive performances, Ukraine won seven of these 10 matches and drew the remaining three. While this has not led to silverware, Pyatov can be proud that he played an instrumental role in one of Ukraine’s best-ever seasons in international football as an independent country.
Pyatov Has Had Memorable Moments for Ukraine – Will He Travel for EURO 2020?
Overall, Pyatov has played in several of Ukraine’s qualification campaigns for the FIFA World Cup and European Championships. Unfortunately for the Ukrainian goalkeeper, many of these qualification cycles, as well as the EURO 2012 and 2016 appearances, ended in disappointment. Nonetheless, Pyatov’s contribution to Ukraine’s goal contributed to a series of historic events, such as Ukraine winning their group in the inaugural UEFA Nations League, winning their EURO 2020 qualification group over the likes of Portugal and Serbia, and leading Ukraine to their undefeated run in 2019.
Pyatov, unfortunately, struggled during the 2020/21 season. He contracted the coronavirus at the start of the season, and he fell out of favor at Shakhtar. Anatoliy Trubin quickly replaced Pyatov. Despite his eventual recovery, Pyatov remained sidelined for most of the season. Pyatov did not feature in Ukraine’s UEFA Nations League matches in 2020, nor did he play in Ukraine’s opening three 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Nonetheless, he is still Ukraine’s captain, and it is likely that he will travel with Ukraine to EURO 2020. Will Pyatov reach 100 appearances for the Ukrainian national team?
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited journalist who covers the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the Futbolgrad Network. Follow him @MTemnycky