Published on:


Ukraine met Austria with qualification from Group C up for grabs. Both teams were on three points and even had the same goal difference, though Ukraine had scored more.

Austria were the more adventurous of the two, attacking with regular intent throughout the opening 10 minutes. They are pressing their opponents and playing at a higher tempo. Ukraine manager Shevchenko on the sidelines was far from happy with what his side were doing.



That pressure told in the 21st minute, with Baumgartner poking in a corner from David Alaba for a deserved lead. That goal sparked Ukraine a bit, with Shaparenko’s shot pushed away by Bachman as Yarmolenko was unable to get a touch on the rebound. Sadly, the goalscorer had to be taken off soon after due to complications from a knock to the head he had suffered before the goal came.



Lamier tested Bushcan with the custodian punching the ball away as Austria continued to exert pressure. Arnautovic missed a glorious chance after a fantastic ball across the box, the striker shooting wide on his left foot. There were to be no further goals before halftime with Ukraine clearly needing to change something quickly post the break.



The second half started in a more even manner, with Ukraine needing to attack more. Both teams were going back-and-forth at each other as the next goal will be crucial. In that regard, Lainer almost scored another own goal at the tournament but was smartly denied by Bachman from a Ukrainian free-kick.



Shevchenko’s side were more positive, but rarely showed the urgency attached with the situation. Austria kept a firm grip on the game to make sure no mistakes were in the offing. The clock ticked down to the 75th minute and still, there were no signs that an equalizer was coming soon.



The game settled down as the final minutes approached with neither team really committing forward in fear of conceding. Yaremchuk flashed a ball across the goal in the 88th minute but there were no takers. Ukraine kept looking for ways to break through but were thwarted at every turn as Austria held on for a famous win.


Here are the three key takeaways from this all-important clash:



Franco Foda would not have thought that his side would have this much time and space on the pitch in the opening half. Austria were able to control the flow of the game right from the off. A change to a back-four helped keep their defensive shape intact while going forward they were able to do as they wanted. They had 13 attempts on goal, and the 1-0 lead though it really should have been more.



After being criticized for being a tad defensive over the past two games, this was a nice change of pace from Foda and co. They kept the pace solidly after the break as well, with Ukraine prodding forward, but rarely dangerous. Austria, meanwhile, were choosing their times to attack carefully in order to not get complacent at the back. Despite not adding to their goal tally, it was a comfortable victory for Austria who finish second in the group.



Their opponents were poor across all departments, and especially the number of misplaced passes on display. Ukraine failed to put the minimum pressure on Austria’s attackers and were unimaginative going forward. The inexperience on their defence was evident as they had trouble being tight to the threats posed, including losing Baumgartner for the opening goal.



Yaremchuk was starved of service at the other end with halftime providing a much needed break from the onslaught. Needing to score, they started the second half in a much more attacking manner. Looking to get forward more often, players pushed ahead but again, some poor distribution let them down. With time running out, Ukraine looked exhausted of ideas and failed to score the goal they needed, which saw them end up third and likely to miss out on qualifying.



Austria have qualified from the group stages for the first time in Euros history. Foda’s men were relatively untroubled in this match. More sterner test awaits with Italy up next on Saturday. Nevertheless, it is a milestone achievement for the nation which many thought should have happened in 2016. For Ukraine, it will be a nervy wait to see if they can create their own history by advancing for the first time from the group stage as one of the four best third-placed teams.


Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

also read