Football

Ukraine qualifies for Euro 2020 despite Ronaldo’s 700th goal

Cristiano Ronaldo during the Euro 2020 group B qualifying soccer match between Ukraine and Portugal at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 14, 2019.

Cristiano Ronaldo during the Euro 2020 group B qualifying soccer match between Ukraine and Portugal at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 14, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AP

Impressive first half helps it to a 2-1 home win over Portugal.

Ukraine advanced to the Euro 2020 finals after an impressive first half helped it to a 2-1 home win over Portugal, whose talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 700th career goal in a Group B qualifier on Monday.

The result left Ukraine top of the section on 19 points from seven games, eight more than second-placed European champions Portugal which has a game in hand.

Third-paced Serbia is on 10 points from six games after an Aleksandar Mitrovic brace gave it a 2-1 win at Lithuania.

Ukraine needed to avoid defeat in order to qualify for its third successive European championship and made a perfect start when Roman Yaremchuk fired the team into a sixth-minute lead.

The striker hammered the ball into an empty net from three metres after Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio could only parry Serhiy Kryvtsov's close-range header.

Portugal replied with a flurry of raids down either flank but was stunned again in then 27th minute, when livewire Andriy Yarmolenko superbly swept home an inch-perfect Vitaliy Mykolenko cross from the left.

The visitors missed several chances towards the end of the first half before Yarmolenko came close again, firing wide from close range after another swift break by Ukraine.

Ronaldo missed several chances in the second half before a Taras Stepanenko handball in the area, which saw the midfielder sent off as it resulted in a second yellow card, earned Portugal a penalty in the 72nd minute.

Ronaldo blasted the spot kick into the top corner but the home side held out in the closing stages as Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov made several good saves, while Danilo Pereira hit the crossbar for Portugal in stoppage time.

With the Portuguese now skating on thin ice, Serbia hauled itself back into contention for a top-two finish after Aleksandar Mitrovic propelled the Balkan nation to a 2-1 win at Lithuania.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 2:59:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/ukraine-qualifies-for-euro-2020-despite-ronaldos-700th-goal/article29687056.ece

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