Oleksandr Zinchenko says Ukraine need to beat Wales in their final World Cup play-off qualifier or else the win over Scotland “won’t mean anything”.
Ukraine won the rescheduled play-off semi-final 3-1 at Hampden Park, and face Wales for a place in the World Cup on Sunday.
Zinchenko, who had broken down in tears in the pre-match press conference when discussing Russia’s invasion of his country, said his side “dream” of reaching Qatar and must finish the job this weekend.
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"Everyone knows the situation in Ukraine and every game is like a final," the Manchester City star told Sky Sports. "We have a dream as a team to be at the World Cup.
"We have one more game, one more final and we need to win it. Otherwise this game won't mean anything.”
Andriy Yarmolenko handed Ukraine a first-half lead before Roman Yaremchuk’s header doubled their advantage after the break.
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Ukraine were the better side but faced a nervy final 10 minutes when Callum McGregor reduced the deficit, but with Scotland throwing players forward, Artem Dovbyk scored with the final kick of the game to make it 3-1.
"Scotland is a great team and have unbelievable players in each line. But we did well. We scored three and could have scored more,” Zinchenko added.
"The Wales game is going to be massive for us. We need to show our best performance in our lives and then we'll see what happens."
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Souness: Zinchenko ran the show
Former Scotland captain Graeme Souness, who had said FIFA should send Ukraine to the World Cup regardless of what happens in the play-offs, was full of praise for Zinchenko afterwards.
"Zinchenko ran the show and I don't think there were any surprises in what we saw from him tonight,” Sky Sports pundit Souness said. “The way he plays at Man City, he flips in and out of playing as a left-back and in the centre of midfield.
"When he goes into midfield, he's a really good footballer and he was the catalyst for Ukraine keeping the ball, threading it through when the time was right.
"He played like a seasoned midfielder. I'm reluctant to be harsh on Scotland as we play with spirit but we didn't have the quality to match Ukraine in vital areas.
"It saddens me to say this but we just weren't good enough."
Robertson: We let ourselves down
Scotland full-back Andy Robertson said his side “didn’t really show up” as their wait for a first World Cup appearance since 1998 goes on.
"It's hugely disappointing as we've waited a long time for this game. Our performances beforehand were really good but to be honest we didn't really show up,” Robertson said.
"Ukraine settled into the game a lot quicker than us and it kind of just continued. We knew they were probably going to get tired and that was the case but we gave ourselves an uphill battle.
"We had to try and stay in the game but we didn't manage that. We left ourselves open to the counter-attack as we had to push for a goal. We didn't play the way we wanted to play and unfortunately it's past us by.
"After a really positive campaign, we've let ourselves down tonight. It's taken us 11 games to get here, after a positive campaign.”
Souness said that Scotland looked “second fiddle” all night, adding: “The best team has won tonight.
“Ukraine were fabulous in the first half and maybe felt they had done the job at 2-0. Scotland through pure grit and determination, never-say-die attitude, got back into it, but when you count up the really good chances created in 90 minutes, this could’ve been an even sorer one for Scotland tonight.”
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