Mon, Nov 16, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Ukraine win first leg against Slovenia

Reuters, LVIV, Ukraine

Slovenia’s Milivoje Novakovic, right, is challenged by Ukraine’s Yaroslav Rakitskiy in their UEFA EURO 2016 qualification playoff first leg at the Lviv Arena in Ukraine on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

Ukraine, who have never won a playoff for a major tournament finals in five previous attempts, took a firm grip on their UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying tie with Slovenia by winning the first leg 2-0 on Saturday.

Winger Andriy Yarmolenko opened the scoring with a low shot into the far corner of the net in the 22nd minute that sparked wild celebrations at a packed Lviv Arena.

Yarmolenko also played a part in the second goal in the 54th minute, striker Yevhen Seleznyov converting his cross to supply the finishing touch to a swift counterattack.

Seleznyov could have added a third goal 15 minutes later when he scuffed his shot when well-placed, but Ukraine go into tomorrow’s second leg in a strong position, hoping to book their ticket to next year’s finals in France.

Slovenia provided little threat up front, although Branko Ilic fired just over the bar from the edge of the penalty area in the first half following a clever header from Milivoje Novakovic.

The visitors, bidding to repeat their Euro 2000 playoff victory over Ukraine, never looked like getting back into the game after the break.

Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, captaining Slovenia, produced a stunning save from a header by Denys Gamrash before Seleznyov struck the woodwork in the 69th minute.

Ukraine coach Mykhaylo Fomenko warned his players not to get carried away by the margin of victory.

“We have only played the first leg,” he said. “We could have scored a third goal and I am glad Slovenia did not capitalize on our mistakes. I think my players understand what they have to do.”

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