Euro 2020: Ukraine beat North Macedonia in tightly-contested affair to keep knockouts hope alive

Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk both scored again in Ukraine’s 2-1 Euro 2020 win over North Macedonia on Thursday.

Ukraine beat North Macedonia 2-1 in Euro 2020. (Image: Twitter/@EURO2020)

Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk both scored again in Ukraine’s 2-1 Euro 2020 win over North Macedonia on Thursday. Yarmolenko netted from close range in 29th minute after Oleksandr Karavaev’s flick from a corner. He then released Yaremchuk on the right flank five minutes later to double the lead with a low shot past onrushing goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski. The two forwards also scored in the 3-2 loss to the Netherlands in the team’s opening match at Euro 2020. Ezgjan Alioski got the only goal for North Macedonia in 57th minute when he scored on a rebound after goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan blocked his penalty shot. Ruslan Malinovskyi later had a penalty saved on the other end by Stole Dimitrievski. A video review afterwards saw the penalty given.

Ukraine now have three points in Group C while North Macedonia have zero. They are facing elimination from the tournament in what is their maiden appearance.

This is Ukraine’s first Euro win since 2012, when current manager Andrey Shevchenko himself scored the winning goals. They now join Netherlands and Austria on three points, albeit with an lesser goal difference.

Ukraine show flair again

In their first game of the tournament, Ukraine showed they were no slouches. Indeed, they only narrowly lost 3-2 to Netherlands thanks to a late goal.

That being said, you get no points for good performances. Ukraine needed a win to keep their hopes to make the next round alive. In that sense, North Macedonia were the perfect opponents.

The nation, making their first ever appearance in a major football tournament, are plucky underdogs at best. But if there was any side Ukraine would be expected to beat, it would be them.

The Blue and Yellow-decked side started on the front foot, much as they did in their last game. Macedonia, for the most part, were pinned in.

One got the feeling that Ukraine would be the first side to score. That is exactly what happened in the 29th minute of the game.

A well worked corner routine was their route to goal. Malinovskyi’s low near-post cross was flicked on smartly by Karavaev. It rolled all the way to Yarmolenko, who toe poked it over the line with his right foot.

They weren’t done there, however. Barely 5 minutes later and Ukraine doubled their lead. Yaremchuk found himself clean through on goal thanks to some shoddy defending by the Macedonians.

But rather than go for power at the far post, he curled one past the near post. The finish was sublime and Ukraine’s early dominance now reflected in the scoreline.

Macedonia, however, were down but not out. They charged forward and veteran striker Goran Pandev thought he gave them the lead. It was some finish too; a chipped effort over the goalkeeper from close range.

But the goal was correctly ruled out for offside and Ukraine went into the break in a comfortable position.

North Macedonia win hearts in Euro 2020

The second half saw North Macedonia come out with a vengeance. Their coach Igor Angelovski made two attacking changes at the start of the half.

Right wing-back Nikolov and midfielder Spirovski were replaced by Darko Churlinov and forward Aleks Trajkovski.

The effect was instant; Macedonia were more direct and regularly troubled the Ukrainians. And when Pandev was brought down in the 55th minute, they got a penalty.

Ezgjan Alioski stepped up to take the spot kick but his shot was saved. Luckily for him, the rebound came straight at him and he duly converted. Game on.

Spurred on by the goal, Macedonia continued to attack. However, they couldn’t find a second. Ukraine, now stunned after conceding, sat deep and looked to defend their slender lead.

Wave after wave of Macedonian attacks were seen out. It wouldn’t be until later in the half that Ukraine began to reassert their dominance.

They were rewarded for that too, as they won a penalty of their own at in the 80th minute. However, Macedonian ‘keeper Stole Dimitrievski guessed right from Ruslan Malinovskyi’s spot kick.

Sadly, that proved to be the final highlight of their game rather than a catalyst to a comeback. Still, the tiny nation can be proud of how they have performed in the tournament.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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