2016 European Championship Qualifying, Playoff
  • Andriy Yarmolenko (22')
  • Yevhen Seleznyov (54')
1st Leg
1st Leg

Ukraine on brink of Euro 2016 place as Yarmolenko strikes against Slovenia

Ukraine's hopes of ending their playoff jinx and qualifying for Euro 2016 were given a huge boost by their 2-0 first-leg victory over Slovenia in Lviv.

The Ukrainians have failed to progress to a major international tournament via the playoffs on five occasions, with Slovenia dashing their dreams of reaching the final stages of Euro 2000.

But Mykhaylo Fomenko's men are well placed to book their place in France next summer after Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Seleznyov scored in either half.

The cushion they will take to Slovenia on Tuesday could have been even greater, but Denys Garmash and Seleznyov were unable to add a third goal against the lacklustre visitors.

Yarmolenko was his nation's top scorer in qualifying, and the Dynamo Kiev winger struck first after 22 minutes.

Yevhen Konoplyanka's corner was only half-cleared and the Sevilla midfielder crossed the ball back into the box, where Samir Handanovic's punch fell to Yarmolenko at the back post.

Both Rene Krhin and Jasmin Kurtic believed the 26-year-old was going to strike at goal with his left foot, but he moved the ball to his right to beat Handanovic and find the far corner.

Until that point, the visitors had shown little attacking threat and a half-volley from Josip Ilicic that sailed over the top in the 28th minute was their first attempt on goal.

They had a great chance to pull level before the half-hour mark when Valter Birsa fed the unmarked Milivoje Novakovic inside the area, but his first touch was appalling and the ball span through to goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

Handanovic made a one-handed save from Serhiy Rybalka's long-range attempt and pushed Garmash's header from another Konoplyanka header over the top as Ukraine ended the first period on top.

It was no surprise to see the home side double their lead nine minutes after the break.

Again Yarmolenko was involved, finding the overlapping Artem Fedetskiy with a pass inside the full-back, and his ball across the six-yard box found Seleznyov sliding in to score from virtually on the line.

The Dnipro forward immediately checked for an offside flag, which was not forthcoming, and he appeared to be level with the last man when the ball came in.

Garmash's header from close range was directed straight at Handanovic and Seleznyov's placed attempt came back off a post, with Bojan Jokic clearing the danger.

Konoplyanka was then allowed to drive into the box but got his shot all wrong, leaving Slovenia feeling fortunate to escape with just a two-goal deficit.