Mark Temnycky –
Lithuania v Ukraine – Ukraine extended their lead in their Euro 2020 qualification group as they earned a convincing 0-3 victory in Lithuania. Having played five of their eight qualification matches, and with Serbia’s loss to Portugal elsewhere in Group B, Ukraine seem destined to qualify for the European Championships next summer.
Lithuania v Ukraine
LFF Stadium, Vilnius, Lithuania
7 September 2019 – 17:00 GMT, 18:00 CET
Lithuania v Ukraine – Goals: 0-1 (Zinchenko, 7’), 0-2(Marlos, 27’), 0-3 (Malinovskyi)
Lithuania Remain Rock Bottom
The Lithuanian national team have now played four of their eight matches in Euro 2020 Qualification Group B. Unfortunately for the Baltic side; they have yet to earn a victory in this group. They lost three of their four qualification matches, and only scored three goals. Their only point came against a stubborn Luxembourg side, but the Lithuanians had to chase the majority of the match.
For whatever reason, the Lithuanians have been unable to muster a strong attack. They tried a variety of tactical changes, substitutions, and plays against their opponents, yet are unable to threaten their opponents on goal. This has cost them dearly.
Simply put, the Lithuanian national team look destined to miss out on yet another international tournament. With qualification in doubt, perhaps they will play spoiler in Group B. Lithuania will have to regroup quickly, however, as they will host Portugal on 10 September at the LFF Stadium.
Ukraine Are Almost a Complete Team
Ukraine’s 0-3 victory means the Zbirnahave kept four clean sheets in five qualification matches. Their defense has been superb as they have only conceded one goal during this period. Moreover, their midfield has dominated possession. Most important, their attacking threat has improved as Ukraine have scored 11 goals in five matches. Simply put, this appears to be a much different team than the one that failed to impress at the 2016 European Championships in France.
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The two positions that still beg questions, however, are the striker and goalkeeper. Youngster Roman Yaremchuk was sloppy with his possession as he carelessly gave the ball away several times. He was also deemed to have handled the ball on a few occasions, indicating he must work on his abilities with the ball.
Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov also had a questionable match as he had a few poor clearances that nearly resulted in goals. The veteran was fortunate to keep his clean sheet as he was forced into very few saves, but he will have to be mindful as his side prepare to face Portugal and Serbia in October and November, respectfully. Lithuania may have missed their chances, but Pyatov will not be so fortunate against stronger opposition.
Ukraine Nearly Qualify for the 2020 European Championships
Ukraine extended their unbeaten run in Group B to five matches as they have won four and drew once. Based on the current table, the Zbirnaare in first place with 13 points. Portugal are in second with five, although the Navigatorshave two games in hand.
As for the rest of the table, Luxembourg and Serbia are tied for points with four a piece, although Luxembourg have a better goal differential, and Lithuania is in last with one point. Ukraine currently hold the head to head over Luxembourg as the Zbirna defeated them on two occasions, and they also defeated Serbia once. Based on the forthcoming fixtures on 10 September, should Luxembourg hold Serbia to a draw, it is very likely Ukraine will qualify directly for the 2020 European Championships with three matches to play.
The Zbirna will not hold their breath, however, and will continue about their business as usual. They have a friendly match against Nigeria later this month and will return to their European Championship qualification campaign in October, where they will host both Lithuania and Portugal. They cannot get complacent, but with three matches to go, Ukraine appear to be an in comfortable position in Group B and may qualify directly for next summer’s competition.
Lithuania v Ukraine – Line-ups
Zubas –Vorobjovas, Palionis, Girdvainis, Mikoliūnas– Šimkus – Golubickas (Slivka, 52’), Matulevičius (Kuklys, 63’), Žulpa, Verbickas – Černych (Laukžemis, 68’)
Manager: Valdas Urbonas
Pyatov – Bolbat, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Mykolenko – Malinovskyi (Bezus, 80’), Stepanenko, Zinchenko – Yarmolenko (Tsygankov, 60’), Yarmechuk (Moraes, 65’), Marlos
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
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