Friday 30 September 2016

Ukraine and Sweden have to settle for play-offs

Nigel Whittaker

Published 13/10/2015 | 02:30

Ukraine were consigned to the Euro 2016 play-offs after losing 1-0 at home to reigning champions Spain in their final Group C qualifying match
Ukraine were consigned to the Euro 2016 play-offs after losing 1-0 at home to reigning champions Spain in their final Group C qualifying match

Ukraine were consigned to the Euro 2016 play-offs after losing 1-0 at home to reigning champions Spain in their final Group C qualifying match.

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Ukraine needed to better Slovakia's result in Luxembourg to earn an automatic berth in the finals, but their fellow Eastern Europeans secured a 4-2 win to make sure of second place.

With Spain already assured of top spot, coach Vicente del Bosque fielded an experimental side at Kiev's Olympic Stadium, scene of La Roja's 4-0 triumph against Italy in the final of Euro 2012.

Full-back Mario Gaspar scored with a header on his debut to put Spain ahead in the 22nd minute.

Cesc Fabregas, captaining the side on his 100th international appearance, won a penalty moments later but had his effort saved by Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

Russia booked their place in the finals by beating Montenegro 2-0 in Moscow to clinch second place in Group G.

Oleg Kuzmin put the Russians ahead with his first international goal on 33 minutes and Alexander Kokorin added the second from the penalty spot four minutes later to ensure that his side finished ahead of Sweden.

Group winners Austria retained their unbeaten record with a 3-0 win over Liechtenstein.

Marc Janko scored twice in three minutes in the second half as Austria completed their campaign with nine wins and a draw from their 10 matches.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his eighth goal in eight qualifiers to put Sweden on the way to a 2-0 win over Moldova 2-0 in Stockholm and a place in the play-offs.

Irish Independent

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