Sun, Jun 25, 2006 - Page 22 News List

World Cup: Ukraine advance after dubious penalty

LACKLUSTER DISPLAY A controversial 70th minute spot kick was enough to see Ukraine through but coach Oleg Blokhin warned he expected much more from his players


Andriy Shevchenko, left, of Ukraine falls after tussling with Karim Haggui, center, of Tunisia as goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel looks on during their Group H match at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on Friday.


An Andriy Shevchenko penalty gave Ukraine an uninspiring 1-0 win over 10-man Tunisia in their final Group H game in Berlin on Friday to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup.

As group runners-up behind Spain they will play Switzerland in Cologne on Monday.

Shevchenko won a generous penalty in the 70th minute when Tunisia center-back Radhi Jaidi was slow to clear, allowing the Chelsea striker to win the ball.

Shevchenko tumbled over in a tussle with Karim Haggui and Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla ruled he had clipped his heels.

Shevchenko, who missed for AC Milan in last year's Champions League penalty shoot-out final defeat to Liverpool, coolly slotted home from the penalty spot.

Tunisia's Zied Jaziri, who had earlier been booked for diving, was unlucky to be sent off in stoppage time at the end of the first half when he tackled Anatoliy Tymoschuk from behind in another dubious refereeing decision.

"I'm pleased that we made it," Shevchenko said afterwards. "It was very difficult after we lost 4-0 to Spain in our opening game but the team pulled itself together and we're now in the last 16.

"It doesn't matter who we play now. They're all very strong and we can't choose our opponents. It's a great feeling to have made it into the next round," he said.

But after a soporific first half, Ukraine barely picked up the tempo after the break when they had an extra man and will need to improve vastly if they want to progress in the competition.

Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin admitted it had been an underwhelming display.

"The team did not play well after sending off and I was nervous until the very end," he said.

But he expected Ukraine to play better now that they had qualified.

"Now you can expect even more from Ukraine. Anything can happen," he said.

Tunisia's French coach Roger Lemerre was unhappy with the penalty and the sending-off.

"The players are pretty bitter now as they feel they were beaten unfairly," he said.

"I guess he thought it was a penalty," he said of the referee. "There are decisions that are taken in the heat of the moment and you can't undo them."

"I want to tell Tunisians I share their bitterness but life goes on," added the man who coached France to the 2002 European Championship and Tunisia to the 2004 African Cup of Nations after being sacked by the French after they failed to score a goal in the 2002 World Cup.

"I think we were well prepared tactically and technically but we made a mistake and from that moment on, of course, the task was much tougher," he said of the sending-off. "The results were not there but we do not need to be ashamed. The biggest regret is not winning the first game."

However, he was undecided whether Tunisia had progressed. The North Africans have qualified for the last three World Cups without getting beyond the first round.

"Whether we've made progress or gone backwards that is the big question," he said. "But we can draw a lot of lessons from this competition."

Andriy Voronin very nearly made it 2-0 with almost the last kick but it would have been more than Ukraine deserved. He had failed to capitalize on an earlier Jaidi blunder in only the second minute when his terrible pass failed to find the unmarked Shevchenko.

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