Ukraine put in one of their worst performances under Andriy Shevchenko as they lost 1-0 to Austria in their third and final group game at Euro 2020 on 21 June 2021.
However, despite finishing third in Group C with three points and a goal difference of -1, the Yellow and Blues still have a chance to progress to the knockout phase thanks to the new rules being applied at the tournament.
Ukraine were listless for most of the final game, lacking energy and organization all over the pitch.
Austria’s early goal, which proved to be the decider, was typical of the evening’s proceedings: David Alaba’s corner kick easily finding Christoph Baumgartner, who reached the ball comfortably ahead of 18-year old Illia Zabarnyi and flicked it goalward with the studs of his right boot.
Ukraine failed to respond to the setback, taking a paltry three shots at the Austrian goal all game, only one of which was on target.
Football writer Andrew Todos was at the game, which was played in the Romanian capital of Bucharest.
He told the Kyiv Post that Ukraine “looked burnt out”, and were dogged by a “general lack of creativity, misplaced passes everywhere, and substitutions not affecting the game at all.”
In the past the Yellow and Blues’ third place finish would mean elimination, but under new tournament rules in place since 2016 they still have a chance to go through into the knockout phase.
From the six groups, four of the best-performing third place teams will go through to the round of 16.
As things stand, Ukraine are the third-best performing of the six teams in third place, but three of them are yet to play their final game.
According to Todos, for Ukraine to go through to the knockout phase, any one of the following three things must happen: Croatia to draw with Scotland, Spain to beat Slovakia while Sweden beat Poland, or France to beat Portugal by three or more goals while Germany beat Hungary.
“The odds are in Ukraine’s favor, but very much out of their hands,” he said.
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