Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk gave Ukraine a vital 2-1 win over North Macedonia on Thursday afternoon, dumping Igor Angelovski’s side out of Euro 2020 in the process.
Quite predictably, Ukraine created most of the goal-scoring opportunities and eventually broke the deadlock with 29 minutes on the clock. Alexander Karavaev nonchalantly flicked on a corner for a wide-eyed Yarmolenko to tap in unopposed at the far post. Andriy Shevchenko’s side then double their advantage five minutes later, when Yarmolenko slotted the ball through to Yaremchuk, who neatly finished into Stole Dimitrievski’s near post.
North Macedonia thought they’d pulled one back through a beautiful Goran Pandev scoop over the goalkeeper, only for the linesman’s flag to spoil the party.
The underdogs did, however, find a way past Ukraine ten minutes into the second half after Pandev was most alert in the box and drifted in front of Karavaev before being clipped by the full back. Ezgjan Alioski stepped up and, despite missing the original spot kick, was able to convert the rebound.
There was yet more drama in the 84th minute when VAR reviewed Ruslan Malinovskyi’s free kick and adjudged it to have struck the arm of substitute Daniel Avramovski in the wall. The referee subsequently awarded Ukraine a penalty, which Malinovskyi saw saved by Dimitrievski.
Despite that miss, Ukraine still held on for the win which puts them on three points with one matchday remaining in Group B. Now, let’s see how the two sides rated…
George Buschan (GK) – 7/10 – Rarely called upon but did make a couple of brilliant saves in the second half, including the penalty itself.
Alexander Karavaev (RB) – 7/10 – A massive threat down the right wing, constantly looking to overlap and get in the box, eventually managing three key passes. His fantastic flick on created the opener. Unlucky to have conceded the penalty.
Illya Zabarnyi (CB) – 6/10 – Very composed on the ball, showing good distribution and positioned himself well to make four clearances.
Mykola Matvienko (CB) – 6/10 – Sometimes got caught out in the box and allowed North Macedonian attackers too much freedom, but was mostly solid.
Vitaliy Mykolenko (LB) – 6/10 – A decent defensive shift, racking up three ball recoveries, but couldn’t assert himself going forward.
Mykola Shaparenko (CM) – 5/10 – Some nice touches on the ball and looked to create chances for others throughout, but gets a five for diving against everyone’s favourite underdog – not on.
Taras Stepanenko (CM) – 6/10 – Didn’t have all that much to do centrally but read the game well and screened his defenders to decent effect, making three ball recoveries.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (CM) – 8/10 – Constantly found pockets of space in dangerous areas and dictated the tempo of proceedings for large parts of the match. Managed three key passes and linked midfield and attack fantastically, as well as breaking up play with six ball recoveries.
Andriy Yarmolenko (RW) – 9/10 – One of the players of the tournament so far. Was at the back post to to tap in for the first and slotted his striker in brilliantly for the second – all while playing a stylish brand of football.
Roman Yaremchuk (ST) – 8/10 – A menace throughout. Spun his markers well, held the ball up brilliantly, linked ply up and grabbed a deserved goal with great composure.
Ruslan Malinovskyi (LW) – 7/10 – Missed a penalty, but was very good throughout. Often dropped deep and looked to make things happen. Did so to decent effect, making four key passes throughout.
Viktor Tsyhankov (RW) – 5/10
Artem Besyedin (ST) – 5/10
Serhiy Sydorchuk (DM) – 6/10
Eduard Sobol (RB) – N/A
Stole Dimitrievski (GK) – 6/10 – Was actually always on his toes and aware to the danger in the box but, in the end, couldn’t do anything to keep out either goal.
Stefan Ristovski (CB) – 6/10 – Covered his colleagues really well at times, showing good pace to track runners that had evaded the other central defenders.
Darko Velkovski (CB) – 6/10 – Started the game badly, allowing Yaremchuk to spin in behind but woke up and was good at stepping up and cutting out danger, making five tackles.
Visar Musliu (CB) – 5/10 – Decent in the air but was caught out on the ground, allowing overlapping players to drift into the box and deliver quality.
Boban Nikolov (RWB) – 5/10 – When possible, he bombed up the right and looked dangerous. But was mostly pinned back by the waves of Ukrainian pressure.
Arijan Ademi (CM) – 6/10 – Quietly impressive, keeping things moving along nicely for his side with a 93% pass accuracy and was alert to danger, making three ball recoveries.
Enis Bardhi (CM) – 7/10 – North Macedonia’s brightest spark, constantly showing great skill and looked to step out of midfield with the ball and drive at the opposition. Desperately unlucky not to score, seeing a couple of efforts saved stunningly.
Stefan Spirovski (CM) – 5/10 – Visibly tasked with staying deep and cutting out any creativity, but really couldn’t get anywhere near the likes of Zinchenko and Malinovskyi and eventually became redundant.
Ezgjan Alioski (LWB) – 6/10 – Strangely, the Leeds man was completely absent throughout, but managed to pull a goal back with his penalty rebound.
Goran Pandev (ST) – 6/10 – The legendary striker thought he’d scored a lovely goal to pull one back but was denied by a spoilsport of a linesman. Was involved in all of his side’s forward play and won them a penalty, reacting first in the box.
Eljif Elmas (ST) – 6/10 – Was much more effective when dropping deep and knitting play together from midfield. Showed good positional awareness in the final third at times, but his flair, thrust and creativity were missed from deep and he was, therefore, somewhat absent throughout.
Aleksandar Trajkovski (ST) – 6/10 – Tested the ‘keeper on a number of occasions but couldn’t deliver that cutting edge.
Darko Churlinov (RB) – 6/10
Daniel Avramovski (AM) – 4/10 – Made very little impact, except giving a penalty away.
Ivan Trickovski (ST) – N/A