Ukraine edge past North Macedonia as Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk score again

Ukraine survived a second-half fightback from Noord-Masedonië to boost their hopes of reaching the last 16 at Euro 2020 with a 2-1 victory in Bucharest.

Andriy Shevchenko’s team took charge of the Group C game with first-half goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk, who both scored in the opening 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands, maar Oekraïne allowed their opponents back into the game after the break.

Ezgjan Alioski pulled a goal back on 57 minute, scoring from the rebound after his penalty was saved. Ruslan Malinovskyi missed a late spot-kick for Ukraine who held on for their first win at a major tournament since Euro 2012, when they were co-hosts.

An open first half-hour saw both teams go close with Napoli’s Elif Elmas miscuing a shot into the side netting and Yarmolenko shooting wide. The West Ham forward won a corner as Stole Dimitrievski turned his shot wide, then scored from the set piece with 29 minute verby. Malinovskyi’s delivery was flicked on by Oleksandr Karavaev for Yarmolenko to score at the far post.

Five minutes later it was 2-0 as North Macedonia’s suspect three-man defensive line played Yaremchuk onside. The Gent forward timed his run to race onto Yarmolenko’s diagonal pass and drill the ball inside Dimitrievski’s far post. Karavaev almost scored a third before half time, while North Macedonia forward Goran Pandev was denied by the offside flag after his clever chip beat the Ukraine keeper, Georgiy Bushchan.

At half-time the North Macedonia coach, Igor Angelovski, switched to a back four and brought on forward Aleksandar Trajkovski. The attacking changes had an immediate effect, with Pandev setting up Enis Bardhi who tested Bushchan at his near post. Malinovskyi forced a save from Dimitrievski at the other end before North Macedonia grabbed a lifeline.

From a short corner, Bushchan brilliantly turned Aleksandar Trajkovski’s shot onto the underside of the bar. Pandev stole in ahead of Karavaev at the far post, forcing the Ukraine defender to make contact and concede a penalty. Bushchan saved Alioski’s penalty but the Leeds player reacted smartly to smash home the rebound.

Viktor Tsygankov and Artem Besedin came on for Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk with 20 minutes to go, and Tsygankov missed a chance to make things more comfortable for Ukraine, firing wide from 15 yards out. North Macedonia substitute Daniel Avramovski then handled the ball while blocking Malinovskyi’s free kick – a decision awarded via VAR after the Argentinian referee, Fernando Rapallini, checked the pitchside monitor.

Atalanta midfielder Malinovskyi stepped up but was denied by Dimitrievski – the fourth penalty miss from five taken in total at Euro 2020 [object Window]. North Macedonia poured forward in search of an equaliser but could not find the equaliser, with Trajkovski firing wide with a hopeful late effort from 18 yards out.

Ukraine move level on three points with with Netherlands and Austria, who meet in Amsterdam later on Thursday. North Macedonia need an Austrian win in Amsterdam to maintain any hope of reaching the last 16.

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