Republic of Ireland’s Nations League winless run continues with loss to Ukraine

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Viktor Tsygankov condemned the Republic of Ireland to another bout of Nations League misery as Ukraine recovered from their World Cup heartache to win in Dublin.

The Dynamo Kyiv midfielder, who had been introduced as a half-time substitute, caught goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher on his heels with a 48th-minute free kick to earn a 1-0 victory at the Aviva Stadium and extend the game. Ireland’s winless run in the competition. at 12 games.

The fact that Oleksandr Petrakov’s men prevailed despite 10 changes to the squad which started against Wales on Sunday speaks volumes about their strength in depth, but also underscored again the lack of cutting edge and creativity at the disposition of his counterpart Stephen Kenny, which saw defender Shane Duffy denied. by the late woodwork.

Even when they found time and space, poor decision-making meant goalkeeper Andriy Lunin barely had a significant save to make, and Kenny’s hopes of winning League B group already look hopeless ahead of Scotland’s visit to Dublin on Saturday after back-to-back defeats by Armenia and Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland fans hold up a banner in support of Ukraine (Niall Carson/PA)

Petrakov had admitted in advance that the emotional and physical impact of events in Cardiff combined with the ongoing Russian invasion at home had taken their toll on his players, but even those with fresh legs found themselves against him as the home side started strong. .

Jason Knight, favored on the left side of a front three to Troy Parrott, drilled an early shot over Lunin and Chiedozie Ogbene had his cross near the post cut off after intercepting the keeper’s attempted pass to Oleksandr Syrota as a high press from the hosts. paid early dividends.

Lunin had to beat Knight’s 10th-minute goal from distance as Ireland looked far more threatening than they had at any stadium in Yerevan on Saturday, although Mykhaylo Mudryk whistled a long-range effort carried above Kelleher’s crossbar to warn of what might lie. at the store.

Vitaliy Mykolenko drilled a wide speculative attempt as playmaker Mykola Shaparenko began to exert his influence, and Mudryk might have done better after being played into space by Shaparenko, but stabbed the ball harmlessly into the goal.

However, Ogbene wasted just as much after escaping the attentions of Syrota, firing an ambitious 21st-minute shot straight at defender Valeriy Bondar with Callum Robinson pleading for a square ball through the middle.

Ukraine celebrates
Ukraine bounced back from their loss in the World Cup play-off final (Brian Lawless/PA)

As the tempo settled, Ukraine too and Duffy had to throw themselves into Serhiy Sydorchuk’s path before Kelleher deftly dealt with Oleksandr Zubkov’s equally successful effort.

Robinson was unsuccessfully appealing for a 33rd-minute penalty after falling under Bondar’s challenge chasing Jeff Hendrick’s deft pass, but Ireland were spared with eight minutes remaining when the sweet strike Taras Kacharaba was ruled out for offside during the build-up following a VAR review.

Knight saw a snap blocked seconds into the restart after Cyrus Christie and Ogbene combined down the right, but Ireland fell behind when Tsygankov’s free-kick eluded everyone in the middle and with Kelleher waiting a touch, flew inside his far post. .

With Shaparenko in charge and striker Artem Dovbyk stretching the home defence, the visitors dominated an Irish side once again short of inspiration, although they were desperately unhappy not to be level with 11 minutes to go. play when Duffy smashed a header against the crossbar.

Substitute Michael Obafemi looked wide and Josh Cullen hit a long-range attempt just wide of the same amount with Lunin rooted in place in a rousing finish, but it was too little, too late and Tysgankov had saw a shot in stoppage time deflected over to the bar.

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