Ukraine's crazy comeback in the match against Macedonia: Rebrov's team gets back after 0-2 in the Euro 2024 qualifiers
On 16 June in Skopje, the Ukrainian national football team played its first official match under the leadership of its new coach Serhii Rebrov and won an extremely difficult victory over North Macedonia - 3:2. For the Blue and Yellows, it was the second match in the 2024 European Championship qualifiers, and after the defeat to England, our team really needed to score points.
Prior to the current confrontation at the Toše Projeski Stadium, the Ukrainians had won all three head-to-head matches with the Macedonians, but the match in Skopje was extremely difficult. After a productive 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday, where the Germans bounced back thanks to a penalty in the dying minutes, Rebrov's men were expected to play as the first team, but our first half was extremely pale.
Rebrov made no changes to his starting line-up compared to the match in Germany. Georgii Sudakov and Artem Dovbyk started again, while Ruslan Malynovskyi, one of the team's recent leaders, remained on the bench.
The first 26 minutes of the match were played on opposing courses, but the teams had virtually no really dangerous moments. The Ukrainians used long throw-ins to Dovbyk, apparently hoping to take advantage of the forward's anthropometry. But they led to nothing.
And then, in the 28th minute, the Macedonians won a corner, and in the heat of the battle, the ball hit Matvienko's hand in his own goalmouth, which the home team immediately signalled to the referee. The referee first waited for his assistant to review the replay, and then ran to see it himself.
In the 30th minute, the referee finally gave a penalty kick to the Ukrainian national team. Anatoliy Trubin tried very hard to guess where the second best scorer in North Macedonia today, Anis Bardi, would shoot, but the Turkish midfielder of Trabzonspor scored his 14th goal for the national team.
With 15 minutes to go in the first half, the Macedonians took the lead and the goal seemed to inspire the hosts. They became bolder and more aggressive in attacking Trubin's possession. At the same time, Mudryk tried to break through to the other side's goal on his own, but he was not very successful.
The Ukrainians had more possession - 51 to 49 per cent - but they failed to convert a shot. In the 38th minute, Dovbyk made a good pass, but the referee saw a violation by the Dnipro forward in someone else's penalty area.
In the 39th minute, Macedonia doubled their lead. Napoli's Italian champion Elif Elmas took a chance from outside the penalty area and somehow managed to curl the ball into the net. The projectile flew over Trubin, who was jumping, and landed closer to the far six.
At the end of the first half, Yarmolenko emotionally brushed aside Musliu, who shouted something at the back of the Ukrainian captain, and almost faced punishment from the referee. At least the home side were asking for a warning for Andriy. But the referee did not do so.
In the 45th minute, the Macedonians had a very dangerous free kick. And here Trubin reacted unerringly, parrying the ball that flew over the wall. And Stepanenko managed to react to the finish.
During the break, Vladyslav Vanat and Yukhym Konoplya came on instead of Dovbyk and Tymchyk. After a conversation in the dressing room, Ukraine played the second half much more aggressively - pressing and putting pressure on the opponent. Sudakov did a great job directing the team in attack. And soon the Macedonians began to make mistakes.
In the 56th minute, Yarmolenko fell in the opponent's penalty area in a fight with the referee, but the referee did not give a penalty, causing the Ukrainian captain to be dissatisfied, which was written all over his face. A minute later, Ukraine sent in a dangerous corner, but Yarmolenko failed to finish the attack effectively.
However, in the 62nd minute, the Blue and Yellows finally scored, making the most of another corner. Tsygankov crossed to the goalkeeper's line, Zabarnyi jumped above everyone and headed the ball into the far corner past the goalkeeper.
And in the 67th minute, Rebrov's substitution worked. Mudryk broke into the enemy's penalty area on the left flank and passed the ball into the centre almost from the front line. The projectile flew past several players, after which Yukhym Konoplya made a good header, breaking into the penalty area - 2: 2.
In the 73rd minute, Viktor Tsygankov almost put Ukraine ahead with a great free-kick. But he got his goal 10 minutes later. Mudryk passed to Viktor in the opponent's penalty area, and the Girona player skilfully beat the goalkeeper. 3:2. And after a failed first half, the blue and yellows made a great comeback.
For the first time in 23 years, the Ukrainian national team pulled out an away victory, having been 0-2 down in the match. And scored the first points in this qualifying round.
It will be recalled that Ukraine lost to England in the opening match of the Euro 2024 qualifiers, while the Macedonians defeated the Maltese, whom Serhii Rebrov's team will meet on 19 June. It should be noted that the two best teams in the group will receive direct tickets to the championship in Germany.