National Team Ukraine have made a step closer to the 2022 World Cup as they beat Scotland 3-1 in an away play-off semi-final.
Worldwide attention was on the game due to Russia’s invasion of their neighbors in February but when the focus turned to football it was Ukraine who were the more accomplished, PA Media reported.
Scotland’s 39-year-old keeper Craig Gordon kept the visitors at bay only until the 33rd minute when skipper Andriy Yarmolenko deservedly put the visitors ahead and Roman Yaremchuk doubled that lead with a header three minutes after the break.
Midfielder Callum McGregor pulled a goal back in the 79th minute as Steve Clarke’s men rallied but it was too little too late and Ukraine substitute Artem Dovbyk drove in a breakaway third in added time to book a place against Wales in the play-off final in Cardiff on Sunday.
Ukraine, backed by around 3,500 fans, started with six players who have not played a competitive game in 2022.
Ukraine’s domestic league halted for a winter break in December and never resumed after Russia’s invasion.
The starting line-up also included Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko of Manchester City, and Yarmolenko, who is set to leave West Ham.
Ukraine’s national anthem was roundly applauded by Scotland’s fans, the Tartan Army.
In the 33rd minute, Ruslan Malinovskyi’s long pass from defense eventually found Yarmolenko who expertly lobbed Gordon from the edge of the box.
In the 49th, Roman Yaremchuk rose highest six yards out to head a cross from Oleksandr Karavaev back across Gordon and into the net.
McGregor brought Hampden to life again when his shot from 16 yards in a packed penalty area was palmed into the net by Heorhiy Bushchan, despite the efforts of defender Taras Stepanenko to clear.
Seconds later the Celtic captain chased back to stop Artem Dovbyk getting a shot away and the tension increased further.
Scotland piled forward in the closing minutes but Ukraine took advantage with Dovbyk scoring a third on the break take a step closer to Qatar, leaving Hampden Park stunned.
In the FIFA 2022 World Cup playoff final, Ukraine will play Wales in Cardiff on June 5.
The winner will join England, Iran, and the USA in Group B.