Ghana's No. 1

Ukraine 'gave everything' in defeat - Zinchenko

Published on: 05 June 2022

Ukraine's only previous World Cup finals appearance was in 2006

As Wales jubilantly celebrated reaching a first World Cup finals since 1958, Ukraine's players slumped to the Cardiff turf and the tears flowed.

Like Wales, the eastern Europeans were hoping to reach world football's greatest tournament for only a second time.

But the war with Russia back home meant this match had taken on a significance far beyond football for manager Oleksandr Petrakov, his players and the country as a whole.

That fact was recognised by Welsh talisman Gareth Bale, who paused his celebrations at full-time to make his way to each of the crestfallen visitors to console them with a handshake or hug.

In time, the beaten players may be able to reflect back with pride on their superb contribution to a pulsating, dramatic, brilliant play-off final.

Right now, though, there is only dejection and pain.

    Bale hails 'greatest result' in Welsh footballAction and reaction as Wales beat Ukraine to reach World Cup finalsWales edge Ukraine to end 64-year World Cup wait

"Every one of us gave everything today, we left everything on the pitch," said Ukraine's Manchester City star Oleksandr Zinchenko.

"In general I don't think we deserved to lose, but that's football, it happens.

"Football is about emotions, we can bring some great emotions to our fans, but unfortunately today we didn't get the result we wanted.

"Everyone needs to continue to fight, as footballers we need to represent our country as best we can.

"Everyone needs to live in peace and we need to stop the war altogether. Today it's Ukraine, but who knows tomorrow? We need to stay together."

Zinchenko is consoled at full-time by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz

Ukraine were bidding to reach a second World Cup since their independence in 1991, having previously qualified for the finals in 2006.

The war has meant their players have had to prepare for the game outside their country, with many of those based in Ukraine having had little or no competitive action since football was halted by Russia's invasion in February.

They made their nation proud by beating Scotland 3-1 on Wednesday to set up the clash in Wales and arguably deserved more from another exceptionally composed performance on Sunday.

Wales keeper Wayne Hennessey made a number of good saves and they also had a strong claim for a penalty when Joe Allen caught Andriy Yarmolenko in the box, but the on-field and VAR officials dismissed it.

The game was ultimately settled by Yarmolenko's diving header, which deflected Bale's 34th-minute free-kick into his own net.

"I think we did everything we could, but I really want the people in Ukraine to remember our team, our efforts," said manager Petrakov.

"I want to say sorry we didn't score but this is sport."

Petrakov was given an ovation as he stood up to leave his post-match press conference and addressed the gathered media by adding: "I want to express my gratitude to Wales. I wish your team all the best in the World Cup and the whole of Ukraine is very grateful to Wales."

Such goodwill was mirrored on the pitch by both sets of players, who joined together to applaud the away supporters in the Cardiff City Stadium, 100 of whom were refugees from the war and had been given free tickets by the Football Association of Wales.


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.
Learn more