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Ukraine 1 (Romanenko 61) Wales 0
Wales lost 1-0 in Lviv in a hard fought battle that saw two evenly matched sides give their all for a possible play-off place.
In the end, just a single goal settled the game and it was heartbreak for the gallant Welsh team and staff who had brought the squad to the brink of possible World Cup qualification.
The match was a do-or-die effort for both teams. Locked on 19 points each, a play-off place would only be a possibility for the winners - and even then it would need help from other teams in the other qualifying groups.
Ukraine had been in hot form, beating Turkey last week, 8-0, in their catch up match in the group. Wales had come into the match after a 4-0 defeat to England in Cardiff in August and if ever the Wales team needed to play at their absolute best, today was the day.
The opening minutes saw both sides looking to settle. Loren Dykes was penalised for a foul after three minutes on Olha Ovdiychuk which came to nothing. Wales had the first chance after nine minutes when Helen Bleazard tried a shot that was saved by the Ukranian keeper, Kateryna Samson. Wales then conceded two free kicks in quick succession, which failed to cause any problems for the visitors.
The game settled in to a midfield stalemate as both sides looked to avoid making a costly error. Another free kick went to the home side on 18 minutes after Angharad James was penalised for a foul on Pekur. A first corner of the game arrived on 21 minutes to Ukraine. It fell to Olha Boychenko, whose shot was gathered by Nicky Davies in the Wales goal. A few minutes later, it was Helen Bleazard who tried her luck with a shot, but it went wide, without troubling the keeper.
Things were still very level with little to choose between the two sides. Loren Dykes had a shot blocked on 36 minutes, only for a minute later Ukraine's Lyudmyla Pekur to have a similar effort blocked by Wales.
With minutes of the first half counting down, Wales won a corner. Sarah Wiltshire took it, but Ukraine managed to clear the danger. That was the final action of a tense, close first half. Now it was down to the coaches to work some half time magic.
The second half opened with a shot from Jess Fishlock that went wide of the mark but once again, it underlined the threat that Wales were causing the home side. Ukraine made their first change on 55 minutes with Oksana Yakovishyn coming on for Boychenko. Two minutes later, Vira Dyatel had a shot that went wide for Ukraine.
This was followed up by Nicky Davies making a good save from Olha Basanska on the hour mark that went for a corner. From the corner, disaster struck for Wales as Tetyana Romanenko scored to put the Ukraine in front on 61 minutes. A cruel blow for Wales, now it was a question of could the Wales team dig deep to find a response?
A corner was won by Wales on 67 minutes and it was taken by Sarah Wiltshire, but Ukraine cleared once more. Jarmo Matikainen made the first change for Wales with Nadia Lawrence replacing Natasha Harding who had been well shackled by the Ukrainian defence. Could the young striker who plays in Iceland find a way through?
Wales defender Carys Hawkins was adjudged to have fouled Yakovishyn on 73 minutes. Pekur took the kick, but nothing came from it. On 75 minutes both sides made substitutions, Michelle Green replacing Loren Dykes and Yulia Kornievets replacing Dyatel.
Two minutes later Pekur went close for Ukraine, before Wales made their third change, sending on Josie Green in place of Helen Bleazard. Time was now not on Wales' side and Ukraine looked happy to try and hold on to the 1-0 scoreline. If this was to be the end of the journey for Jarmo's Welsh team, they could all hold their heads up high after a battling performance.
A corner came to Wales in the 89th minute, taken by Sarah Wiltshire, but once more the Ukrainian defence was equal to the threat. As the game entered additional time, there was no denying that in what had been a very even game, Ukraine had taken the chance that had fall to them and it was that that had made the only difference between the sides.
The final whistle went and it was a case of 'so near, yet so far', but what a great display by Wales over the tournament.
Wales' agony was complete by the news that a win would have been enough - Finland's defeat to France means that Ukraine have gone through to the play-offs along with Italy, Holland and Scotland.
Ukraine: Kateryna Samson, Olha Basanska, Olha Ovdiychuk, Valentyna Kotyk, Darya Kravets, Lyudmyla Pekur, Iya Andrushchak, Olha Boychenko (sub Oksana Yakovishyn 55mins), Vira Dyatel (sub Yulia Kornievets 74mins), Alla Lyshafay, Tetyana Romanenko (sub Ganna Voronina 90mins). Subs not used: Iryna Sanina, Olena Khodyreva, Maryna Masalska.
Wales: Nicola Davies, Nicola Cousins, Carys Hawkins, Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Angharad James, Loren Dykes (sub Michelle Green 75mins), Jessica Fishlock, Natasha Harding (sub Nadia Lawrence 70mins), Sarah Wiltshire, Helen Bleazard (sub Josie Green 80mins). Subs not used: Sophie Dando, Sam Quayle, Amy Wathan, Megan Wynne.
(Report by www.faw.org.uk)
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