Kyiv fans shaken by Ukraine’s soccer loss
STORY: Ukrainian soccer fans huddled in this bar in the capitol, Kyiv on Sunday to watch their national team face off against Wales in a World Cup qualification match.
The sporting competition on the Cardiff soccer pitch took on additional meaning this year as Ukrainians battle tooth and nail against the Russian military for every inch of territory in the homeland.
Hopes had been high after Ukraine beat Scotland last week and had only one last match to win to book their place at the World Cup in Qatar in November.
But the game ended in disappointment for those here.
An own goal from Ukraine winger Andriy Yarmolenko, who headed a free-kick into his own net, decided the contest.
Ukraine’s coach, Oleksandr Petrakov, was clearly disappointed, and apologized to Ukraine for the loss.
But Rob Page, the manager of the Welsh team, made clear that the defeated Ukrainians were more than worthy opponents.
“I thought Ukraine were excellent, I really did, and they didn’t surprise me when we all watched the Scottish game, we thought they were excellent and thoroughly deserved the win and we knew we had to be at our complete best tonight to get the result.”
The Ukraine team achieved far more than expected by coming so close to making the finals for the second time in their country’s history as an independent nation.
With this win Wales have ended their 64-year wait for a place in the World Cup finals, and will face England, Iran and the United States in the group stage of the tournament.