Andriy Yarmolenko scores as Ukraine make winning start UEFA Nations League
Andriy Yarmolenko made a goalscoring start to the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League to help Ukraine to an impressive 2-1 win over Switzerland.
The West Ham United forward opened the scoring as Ukraine continued their superb recent form to secure all three points from their League A Group 4 opener in Lviv.
With Germany and Spain, who drew 1-1, also in Group 4, it was vital Ukraine got off to a winning start against a Switzerland side who finished fourth in the inaugural 2018/19 Nations League.
And Yarmolenko set them on their way, scoring his 38th international goal on 15 minutes, racing into the penalty area before converting debutant Oleksandr Tymchyk’s cut-back with a neat back-heel.
The 30-year-old’s goal means he is now just ten behind record-holder and current national-team head coach Andriy Shevchenko as his country’s all-time leading marksman.
Haris Seferovic equalised three minutes before half-time and Ruben Vargas hit the post for the Swiss shortly after the break, but it was Ukraine who scored the all-important third goal on 69 minutes.
Manchester City man Oleksandr Zinchenko was the hero, scoring from long-range to extend Ukraine’s unbeaten home run to ten matches.
Shevchenko’s men have lost just one of their last 22 games, winning 14 and drawing seven, and will hope to extend that impressive record when they travel to Madrid to take on Spain on Sunday evening. The tie will be screened live by Sky Sports on the Red Button, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Elsewhere, Darren Randolph earned his 43rd cap for Republic of Ireland and Stephen Kenny’s reign as manager began with a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria.
The Irish looked set for defeat in Sofia in their League B Group 4 opener, despite dominating possession and creating more opportunities than their hosts, after midfielder Bozhidar Kraev put the Bulgarians into a 57th-minute lead.
However, Shane Duffy popped up in the third minute of added-time to head Robbie Brady’s corner past Georgi Georgiev and snatch a point for the Boys in Green.
Ireland trail early group leaders Wales, who won 1-0 in Finland, and will hope to leapfrog Ryan Giggs’ men when the host the Finns in Dublin at 5pm on Sunday – a game that will be broadcast live in the UK on Sky Sports Football.
The action continues for West Ham’s internationals on Friday evening, with Lukasz Fabianski and Poland visiting the Netherlands in their opening League A Group 1 fixture, and Tomas Soucek’s Czech Republic traveling to Slovakia in League B Group 1. Both matches kick-off at 7.45pm. Declan Rice and England kick-off their League A Group 2 campaign in Iceland on Saturday at 5pm.