European Championship Qualifying roundup: Ukraine, Finland and Armenia all claim wins

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European Championship Qualifying roundup: Ukraine, Finland and Armenia all claim wins

Viktor Tsygankov tucks away a penalty
Viktor Tsygankov tucks away a penaltyAFP
Ukraine picked up their second victory of UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying with a slender 1-0 triumph over group minnows Malta, substitute Daniel Hakans scored a hat-trick to help Finland thump San Marino and stretch their lead at the top of Group H, while Tigran Barseghyan’s stoppage-time penalty rescued Armenia’s blushes and gave them a nervy 2-1 victory over basement side Latvia.

Ukraine 1 Malta 0

While the first half may have been goalless, it wasn’t for the lack of trying from either side. Unsurprisingly, it was Ukraine who dominated much of the first 45 minutes, and the defacto home side ought to have taken the lead early on in the contest, when Vladyslav Vanat forced a strong one-handed save from Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello.

The young Dynamo Kyiv striker would come close once again moments later, this time guiding an outstretched effort into the side netting, with an open goal gaping the opposite side of the post. A let-off for Malta? Perhaps, but it was the away side who spurned the best opportunity of the half, as Jodi Jones mistimed a looping volley inside the penalty area, dragging his right-footed effort wide of the net.

Sent into the break ruing that missed chance, Malta’s woes would worsen midway through the second half when referee Ruddy Buquet awarded Ukraine a harsh penalty. Jean Borg was adjudged to have been the guilty party, with the defender ruled to have brought Andriy Yarmolenko down inside the penalty area, despite replays suggesting the contact was minimal.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Viktor Tsyhankov stepped up to convert the spot kick with relative ease, guiding a well-struck effort high into the top left-hand corner.

In truth, it was a game Ukraine couldn’t have lost, if they harboured genuine hopes of qualifying for Euro 2024 and the hosts were somewhat fortunate to escape with three points. Alas, a second half that wasn’t littered with chances, but one which saw Ukraine find a way to win will please manager Rebrov, whose side had provisionally moved into the automatic qualification spots ahead of the later kick-offs.

As for Malta, they leave Slovakia and end the international break with their reputation intact, having restricted a side who are over 130 places higher than them in the FIFA World Rankings to just the one goal.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine)

See all the match stats here

 

Other qualifying results:

Armenia 2 Latvia 1

Finland 6 San Marino 0

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