Ukraine through, Swiss miss

The first penalty shoot-out of Germany 2006 was required to find a winner between Switzerland and Ukraine in Cologne after a dire 120 minutes of football couldn’t decide the outcome.

Winners are grinners: Ukraine wins the penalty shoot-out
Winners are grinners: Ukraine wins the penalty shoot-out

With no real favourite or underdog in the match both sides were largely content to play conservative football, only attacking on the counter, in an effort to sneak through to a quarter final match against Italy.

What resulted was a lacklustre display by two teams who are perhaps lucky to have come this far given some of the teams they faced in the group stage.

Both sets of players seemed content to settle the match through the luck and drama of a penalty shoot-out, although the Swiss were marginally more enterprising throughout the match.

In the end, Ukraine prevailed 3-0 on penalties as the Swiss missed all three of their chances from the spot.

The shoot-out

Ukrainian captain Andriy Shevchenko was first up and didn’t lead by example, as he hit a soft penalty which Swiss keeper Pascal Zuberbuhler saved easily to his right.

Not to be outdone in the mediocre stakes, Swiss substitute striker Marco Streller stepped up to take his side’s first shot, hitting an even worse effort which was saved by Ukrainian number 1 Oleksandr Shovkovskyi.

Swiss defender Ludovic Magnin (l) is consoled by Patrick Mueller (r)

Swiss defender Ludovic Magnin (l)
is consoled by Patrick Mueller (r)

Finally, after 120 minutes and two failed penalty attempts, Ukraine’s substitute midfielder Artem Milevskiy chipped his cheeky effort into the net to open the scoring for the night.

With the Swiss down 1-0, midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta further punctuated the night’s woeful display when his penalty effort hit the crossbar, Shovkovskyi not having to make a save.

Serhiy Rebrov, another Ukraine substitute, stepped up and drilled a clinical penalty making it 2-0, with the unlucky Zuberbuhler diving the wrong way.

Cologne midfielder Ricardo Cabanas, playing on his club side’s home ground,  looked nervous as he placed the ball on the penalty spot, and ended up hitting his shot just to Shovkovskyi’s left for an easy save.

Dynamo Kiev midfielder Oleg Gusev finished things off with another excellent spot kick, sending Ukraine through to the quarters in their first World Cup Finals.

Thrown up: Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin celebrates

Thrown up: Ukraine coach Oleg
Blokhin celebrates

The Ukrainian players celebrated wildly, as they should, but they will really need to lift their game if they are to bother their quarter final rivals Italy, while Switzerland became the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup Finals without conceding a goal.

There were plenty of fouls in the match, however one gets the feeling that Mexican referee Benito Archundia was given an edict not to hand out any cards unless absolutely necessary, given the events between Portugal and the Netherlands in Nuremberg, and hence only one caution was issued all match.

Ukraine will play Italy in Hamburg on Friday, 30th June.

An interesting footnote to the drama of the penalties was that Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin couldn’t watch them.

The former European player of the year retreated to the changing rooms before they started and had to be retrieved to join the celebrations.

Earlier action

After a lull in the match, Andriy Shevchenko roused sleepy fans in the 67th minute with a well struck shot that fizzed past Swiss keeper Pascal Zuberbuhler’s left hand post.

A 74th minute corner for Ukraine saw Andriy Gusin get on the end of midfielder Maksym Kalinichenko’s cross, with his headed effort flashing just wide of the post.

Both sides had good scoring opportunities in the first half with the goalposts at each end of the field being rocked.

Ukraine received a free kick in good position in the 21st minute, and striker Andriy Shevchenko got on the end of Kalinichenko’s delivery with a diving header that bounced up and hit the crossbar.

Just three minute’s later, Switzerland’s Alex Frei also hit the woodwork when he struck a near-perfect free kick that crashed into the crossbar with keeper Shovkovskyi looking on.

Swiss coach Kobi Kuhn made a substitution in the 34th minute when central defender Johan Djourou came off for Auxerre’s Stephane Grichting, Kuhn still trying to find a suitable replacement for the injured Philippe Senderos.

Source : Al Jazeera

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