Ukraine played their first “home” game at the Štadión Antona Malatinského in Trnava, Slovakia on June 19, as Serhiy Rebrov’s side continued their battle to qualify for the 2024 European Championships.

In a performance not dissimilar to the first half of the game against North Macedonia on June 16, Ukraine huffed and puffed against Malta and needed a rather soft penalty 18 minutes from time – their second of the game – to secure a win.

For their part, Malta showed an improved performance on their previous outing – which ended in a 4-0 drubbing by England – but in spite of creating several goal-scoring chances, they were enthusiastic but generally outclassed, particularly in midfield. 

Bright start 

Ukraine started well with an effort from Vladyslav Vanat being deflected by Maltese goalkeeper Henry Bonello into the path of Andriy Yarmoloenko, whose attempt on the rebound was blocked by defender Jean Borg for the first corner of the match. At the other end, a shot from outside the area by Malta’s Jodi Jones was athletically pushed away by the Ukrainian goalkeeper, Anatoliy Trubin

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The two sides exchanged a few missed attempts on goal in the first half without creating anything clear cut. Viktor Tsyhankov, who now plays for Girona in Spain’s La Liga, was once again the host team’s brightest player, and had the best chance of the first half with his bullet from outside the area flying just over the bar in the 38th minute.

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Three minutes later, Mykola Matviyenko released Tsyhankov on the left whose cross ended with Bonello and Vladyslav Vanat colliding as the went for the inviting ball inside the six-yard box. Unfortunately, Malta’s goalkeeper came off worse and could not continue. He was replaced by Matthew Grech.

Grech was immediately called into action deep in added time, parrying a powerful drive by Ruslan Malinovskyi which rebounded to Vanat. In turn, Vanat fed Tsyhankov who crashed the ball into the back of the net only for it to be pulled because of an offside decision earlier in the move.

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Penalties

Six minutes into the second half, Yukhym Konoplia delivered a teasing cross from the right. The ball ricocheted around the box with shots by Yarmolenko and Vanat striking defenders before an effort by Taras Stepanenko being blocked by Borg’s arm.

After the customary VAR check, the referee awarded Ukraine the penalty. This was taken by Andriy Yarmolenko, whose effort flew too high only managing to hit the crossbar before the ball bounced to safety.

Ukraine was awarded a second, rather fortunate penalty, in the 69th minute. Yarmolenko let his trailing leg make contact with that of Borg and went down in a heap. Again, VAR confirmed a penalty and Tsyhankov made no mistake to put Ukraine ahead and secure victory.

Ukraine moves into second place in Group C, three points ahead of Italy and North Macedonia, while Malta remains at the bottom of the table without any points after four matches.

2024 European Championship Qualifying Group C

Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost Goals Points
For Against
1 England 4 4 0 0 11 1 12
2 Ukraine 3 2 0 1 4 4 6
3 Italy 2 1 0 1 3 2 3
4 North Macedonia 3 1 0 2 4 6 3
5 Malta 4 0 0 4 1 9 0

 

A further round of Group C qualifying matches are scheduled for September through November, with Ukraine due to take on England on Sep. 9.

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