Agony for England as Ukraine win Final
Sunday, 02 August, 2009
Host Ukraine became European Champions with a 2-0 win over England.
Nicholas Veevers in Donetsk
England’s hopes of becoming European U19s Champions in both the women’s and men’s game were dashed in Donetsk on Sunday when the Young Lions were beaten by hosts Ukraine in the Final of the UEFA Championship.
After seeing the girls lift their trophy aloft a week ago, hopes were high that Brian Eastick’s team could make it a memorable double but in front of a lively home crowd, it was Ukraine who became the first host nation to win this competition since its inception eight years ago.
England’s Achilles heel in the tournament had been conceding early goals and that was what proved to be the case again, as they gifted Ukraine the opener before Dmytro Korkishko’s stunning free-kick made it 2-0 in the opening moments of the second half.
With their defence succeeded in restricting England’s opportunities to set-pieces and free-kicks in the final third, it proved to be enough and for several members of the squad it was heart-ache again, just two years on from their defeat against Spain in the Final of the U17s competition.
After an impeccably held minute’s silence in memory of former England manager Sir Bobby Robson, it was the Young Lions who got the game underway, but it was to be a poor start for England again as they fell behind in just the fifth minute. Korkishko’s corner from the right looked to be mis-hit but it found its way to Denys Garmash and he volleyed home at the front post, with England’s defence caught flat-footed.
England responded well to that early setback and went on to force a succession of corners themselves, but Ukraine managed to just about stave off any danger to keep their lead in tact.
Nathan Delfouneso even had the ball in the net after 17 minutes, when he nodded Dan Gosling’s through ball past Igor Levchenko, but he was judged to be marginally offside and the effort was scrubbed out.
Despite their lead, Ukraine themselves had seen very little of the ball with England enjoying the lion’s share of the play and Jason Steele was rarely troubled, with a simple save from a long range daisy cutter from Kyrylo Petrov his only real action in the opening 45 minutes.
The first half really had been dominated by England, winning seven corners and several free-kicks with Levchenko in particular looking shaky in goal. But they hadn’t managed to create any clear cut chances and that saw them head back to the dressing room at the break a goal behind but with plenty of positives to take into the second period.
It would soon be diminished though as the Young Lions were made to pay within five minutes of the re-start, as Korkishko showed England just how it should be done with a stunning free-kick to make it 2-0. After a foul on Vitaliy Kaverin 25 yards from goal, the forward stepped up and fired home with pace and power into the top corner, giving Steele no chance whatsoever and setting the hosts well and truly on their way to victory.
That goal brought England to life a little and Gosling saw a shot blocked in the area after good work on the left by Danny Welbeck and Joe Bennett allowed the latter to play a low ball into the middle. To sum up England’s bad luck, Temur Partsvania’s clearance hit Gosling only to roll agonisingly wide of the post.
Ukraine settled again though and Korkishko really should have made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute when Dmytro Kushnirov’s cross from the left landed at his feet only for the Dynamo Kiev man to mis-control and see the chance gone.
At the other end, Bennett’s free-kick tested Levchenko after a foul on Henri Lansbury, but the Ukraine keeper scampered across his line to make a good save much to the delight of the crowd.
That proved to be the last of the chances and England after having to suffer see Ukraine collect the title, they will now have to make the trip home on Monday without the competition trophy in tow although there was one award going England's way, with Delfouneso picking up the Golden Boot after scoring four goals in the five games.