World Cup heartbreak for Ukraine

Sunday, 5 June, 2022 48comments  |  Jump to last
Playoff Final

Wales and Ukraine contested the final European place at the World Cup Finals in Qatar by way of a playoff in Cardiff this evening, with the hosts edging the plucky visitors by a single goal.

Everton's Vitalii Mkykolenko played the full 90 minutes while for Wales, Gareth Bale was in their starting line-up and it was his free-kick via the head of Andriy Yarmolenko that decided it in the first half.

Wayne Hennessey had to be at his best in the Welsh goal, particularly in the second half as the Ukrainians pushed for an equaliser, but Rob Page's men ultimately held out to claim Wales's spot in the World Cup Finals for the first time in 64 years.


Reader Comments (48)

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Dale Self
1 Posted 05/06/2022 at 17:02:06
Cmon Wales. Respect and hopefully a fantastic effort from Ukraine but I have to pull for that lion in winter, Sir Gareth Bale.
Oliver Molloy
2 Posted 05/06/2022 at 17:02:24
Come on, Ukraine – I just can't stand Bale!
Dale Self
3 Posted 05/06/2022 at 17:05:04
Damnit Oliver!
Derek Knox
4 Posted 05/06/2022 at 17:21:02
Dale, he was a right twat in American Psycho! :-)
Jeff Armstrong
5 Posted 05/06/2022 at 17:57:20
Derek, good point, both Welsh, both Bale’s, both twats, I remember Christian reportedly attacking his own mother at the height of his fame.
Mike Gaynes
6 Posted 05/06/2022 at 19:02:01
Well, mixed feelings. Deepest condolences to Ukraine for the heartbreaking own-goal end to an inspiring story.

But congrats to Wales and all the Welsh on TW, happy for all of you. Looking forward to November 21.

Congrats also to our man Vitaliy Mykolenko for a brilliant performance -- as he showed in our season run-in, he is truly a big-game player.

And a wry smile for my USA, whose chances of advancing out of our group at the World Cup are better now than they would have been had Ukraine made it.

Jamie Crowley
7 Posted 05/06/2022 at 19:07:25
Mike -

I've been saying for a bit now, the USA needed to dodge Ukraine like the plague.

Happy for America that Wales won. Shame for Ukraine and all the Ukrainian people getting behind their team in their time of tragedy, but that's sport.

I think the equation for the USA is very simple now - beat Wales and Iran and we're through. I've been saying for a while I think this American squad could get to the final 8. We'll see. The talent is there, sometimes the coaching for me and tactics makes me scratch my head. But Berhalter has actually been pretty spot on the last 6-8 games or so. I still, for whatever reason, don't fully trust him.

Congrats to the Welsh on TW. See you on Monday, November 21st. No, I will not be working that day!

Do they have sheep in the Middle East? I'm concerned for the Welsh traveling supporters.

Dennis Stevens
8 Posted 05/06/2022 at 19:13:45
Are you worried they might get fleeced, Jamie?
Ed Prytherch
9 Posted 05/06/2022 at 19:17:11
Great result for me. MotM: Wayne Hennessey — born about 3 miles from the ancestral home of the Prytherch clan.
Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 05/06/2022 at 19:26:51
No wonder he played so well, Ed. He is risen from sacred ground!
Oliver Molloy
11 Posted 05/06/2022 at 20:02:18
Don't think I have ever cheered on Engerland, but I may do come the Wales game. How the fuck did Ukraine not get that stone-wall penalty?

Isn't this going to be the weirdest World Cup ever being played in a million degrees heat and in November / December.

Off topic I have come to the conclusion that the worst pundits I have heard or read are two ex-Everton players, Campbell & Williams.

Jamie Crowley
12 Posted 05/06/2022 at 20:25:34

I'm so fuming that Fifa took our summer away! The World Cup in November and December is a farce! Infuriates me.

The only turd polishing about the World Cup schedule is that two of the USA's games fall during our Thanksgiving week, so it'll be easy to bug out of work and watch, as well as the fact that the entire family will be home to watch together, as two of my boys live in Charleston, South Carolina, and Austin, Texas, now.

But it's still a joke. Fifa is so corrupt … it just is laughable.

Congrats again to the Welsh.

John Chambers
13 Posted 05/06/2022 at 20:35:41
Oliver, we (Wales) have probably had as many bad refereeing decisions as we (Everton) have, starting with a dodgy East German ref in 1976, Joe Jordan winning a penalty for Scotland after he punched the ball:

1977 (October 12) Wales 0-Scotland 2 (World Cup Qualifier)

About time we got a dodgy decision.
Robert Williams
14 Posted 05/06/2022 at 21:32:47
Of course everyone has sympathy for Ukraine but that does not take anything away from the Welsh performance this evening.

With a mixture of age and youth, Wales withheld the best Ukrainian efforts.

Of particular note was the excellent performance of our own Mykolenko, and Zinchenko was one that we could do something with, as has been said on TW before.

It would be nice to see Wales progress further but, if getting to the World Cup is to be the highlight, then I shall settle for that.

I will not be cheering England in any games; never have, never will. On the other hand, I don't particularly like Bale or Ramsey but they are Welsh, so they will have my full support. Cya!

Dave Bowen
15 Posted 05/06/2022 at 23:47:45
As a Welsh Evertonian, I'm absolutely delighted we've finally made it. Commiserations to Ukraine, they were the better team, however as we saw a week ago, you need to put the ball in the net. It was a definite penalty on Yarmalenko too.

Btw Zinchenko looks a bit special. Any chance Mykolenko could have a word & entice him to Goodison?

Kieran Kinsella
16 Posted 06/06/2022 at 04:12:29
Dave Bowen

Congrats mate. I'm not Welsh (well 2 percent Welsh according to Ancestry DNA test) but I'm pleased for y'all. Honestly I never thought I'd see Wales in the World Cup after near misses from prior teams.

Bale has been great but he's fading, Ramsey ditto but already faded. The Southall, Ratcliffe, Hughes, Van Den Hauwe team with that striker from Chester City were equivalently much better. Even years later under Yorath they had more quality than now and just missed out.

So all things considered it's a remarkable achievement. Lots of larger European nations with strong domestic leagues have failed to make it. So kudos to Wales. Job well done

Paul Ferry
17 Posted 06/06/2022 at 06:21:39
Are you being serious, Jamie, mate; the US will make the final eight? You're all cloud-cuckoo lad.

I've just watched the rerun of the Uruguay game and the US were shocking in the second half and mediocre in the first. This would be the same US team who just got outclassed and outplayed by Mexico? The team who today's experts said depend on someone who can't start a game at Chelsea? A team full of kids I don't know.

The US had a stronger team in 2010. This team will not beat Wales who are a far more committed and passionate team and set of fans. The worst thing for the US is a first game against Wales. I would not be surprised if the US sneaked/fluked a result against England rather than Wales. And remember Iran have already humiliated America in the World Cup.

I expect Wales to finish second in the group.

Anyway, hope you and the clan are doing great.

Mike Gaynes
18 Posted 06/06/2022 at 06:53:51
Well, willya look who just weighed in from the Midwest?? It's Paul Ferry. Hope you're well.

Gotta disagree with you, though... this USMNT is much, much more talented than the Donovan, Dempsey, Howard & Bradley group of 2010. No contest. This team doesn't just "depend" on Pulisic -- it depends on midfielders who start every game in Serie A (McKennie), the Bundesliga (Adams, Reyna) and La Liga (Musah), which never happened before with Americans. Plus an attacking fullback who starts for Barcelona.

(Donovan's career peak was coming off our bench; Dempsey at Fulham; Bradley with Mönchengladbach. Not even close.)

I say it's better than 60/40 they get out of their group. Final 8 is a reach, given the weaker goalkeeping and lack of a striker. But wait 'till 2026, when all these gifted kids are 27 years old and playing at home.

Mike Gaynes
19 Posted 06/06/2022 at 07:12:51
By the way, Pulisic got more Premier League starts at Chelsea than $60 million Timo Werner.
Danny O’Neill
21 Posted 06/06/2022 at 07:25:26
I really like McKennie, Mike. Full of energy and can play a number of positions. I would not be disappointed to see him at Everton. I called it after watching him for Schalke. He would make a great and very popular Everton player.

I also like both Pulisic and Werner. Both good examples of how good players can either thrive or struggle depending on the club there are at or the players they are surrounded by. I would take either or both if Frank can use his Chelsea connections and they are looking to offload.

When I look back, the US football scene has progressed rapidly since I was young back in the 80s. Players in the top European leagues, regular qualification for the World Cup. Unheard of back then. Some of the "soccer" facilities near my property in central Florida are unbelievable and put my local mud ridden park to shame. Likewise when I visit San Antonio in Texas with work.

Respect. We should really be tapping into that market for players and fan base.

Michael Lynch
22 Posted 06/06/2022 at 11:00:29
I'm pleased Wales won, but I still can't believe Ukraine didn't get that penalty. Those are usually given every single time.

I remember Arsenal getting one at Goodison the season before last when Tom Davies kicked at the ball not realising Maitland-Niles was behind him and the penalty was given when Tom made contact with his opponent.

Christy Ring
23 Posted 06/06/2022 at 12:11:35
I'm delighted for Wales and unsung heroes like Hennessy, and great to see their Championship and lower league players get to play in the World Cup Finals.

Regarding the shocking penalty decision, was that Paul Tierney refereeing?

Andy Mead
24 Posted 06/06/2022 at 12:29:01
John Chambers @13,

Spot on. We have had more than enough bad luck and disgraceful penalties given against us over the last 50 years. Add in referee corruption and we are due a huge slice of luck.

I fancy us to beat USA and Iran in the group and progress. I think getting to a World Cup Finals is extremely hard. Easier whilst you're there.

Case in point, we had to get the best of the 1st ranked team in the world to get there. Now we got Iran and USA who, with respect, would never get out of a European qualifying group.

Add in Asian sides and the likes of Saudi Arabia who always qualify and are shite whilst Italy have failed to qualify for the last two World Cups and you see my point.

Mike Gaynes
25 Posted 06/06/2022 at 16:38:15
Danny #21, I made the same call at the same time, but McKennie never even considered any destination but Juventus. He's far beyond us now.

Adams would be a brilliant #6 for us. Leeds' Yank manager wants to sign him away from Leipzig to go with the already-signed Aaronson, and I'd love for us to steal that deal.

However, best of all might be Musah, who may be gettable from the chaos at Valencia. I would be ecstatic if we went after him. Talent on the ball, a relentless engine and ungodly maturity for a 19-year-old. If we were to sign a Yank, he'd be the one I'd want most.

As to Everton tapping into the US fan base, I've been screaming about that for 30 years. I dream of the day I walk into a DICKS or a kit shop and see Everton shirts hanging there next to the jerseys from the Big 6, Bayern, Barca and Real. Hell, I've bought a half-dozen Barcelona shirts off the discount rack at Ross over the years.

But our club will never do it. I've given up.

Jamie Crowley
26 Posted 06/06/2022 at 16:42:17
Andy and Paul "The Man" Ferry -

The USA would easily qualify out of Europe. Euro qualifying is now a joke. Such soccer powerhouses like Albania, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Estonia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, etc

It's the absolute height of English arrogance to rip CONCACAF and believe your qualifying is "difficult" in Europe with so many minnows your qualifying looks like the pre-qualifying stage in CONCACAF with holiday island destination resorts.

PAH-LEEZ! Absolute joke.

Back to the USA - our team is full of potential. There's far more raw talent than that awesome 2010 team we had. But we're really, really young. I still think we can make Final 8. Beating Wales in the key, the first game is the biggest by far.

So we'll see all you Welsh boys in November.

Paul Ferry - Hope you're well mate.

Mike Gaynes
27 Posted 06/06/2022 at 16:52:32
Jamie, agreed. Let's tap up those Welshmen for some wagers.

I believe the seven most talented field players in USA history will play in Qatar, and at kickoff all will be 24 or younger.

Pulisic, Dest, McKennie, Adams, Reyna, Weah and Musah are all more gifted than the "legends" Donovan, Dempsey and Claudio Reyna.

Way too young and too sloppy at the back to be true World Cup contenders this time, but just you wait.

Kieran Kinsella
28 Posted 06/06/2022 at 17:01:48
Jamie, Pau, Andy, Mike

I'll try and offer a more balanced view. The USA might qualify in Europe but it depends on the groups. Italy didn't cause there were too many good teams in one group.

Switzerland on the other hand always seem to stroll through an easy group. USA could reach the quarters as it's not unusual for a mediocre team to reach the semis, eg, Bulgaria, Turkey, South Korea depending on a bit of luck or in the latter case corrupt refs.

I don't think Wales or the USA are that good. But as an England fan, I'm concerned. 1950 lost to USA, 2010 drew before Germany thrashing. Wales finished above us in 2016 then we lost to Iceland.

So we have two bogey teams. Then there is Iran that are always a mystery but seem competitive at tournaments. Here they are against three teams their government hates and regards as Satan. May just fire them up.

So, in a nutshell, I'm expecting a shit show for all of us with red cards and injuries plus early exits.

Danny O’Neill
29 Posted 06/06/2022 at 17:22:57
I agree Jamie.

Some European internationals are just meaningless.

There should be some sort of FA Cup style filtering based on rankings.

The top division doesn't join the FA Cup until half way through the season when the qualification and preliminary rounds are done and out of the way.

England get excited because they give San Marino or the Faroe Islands a hiding.

And to that matter, why do Monaco play as a club team in the French League rather than as a country?

Sorry, just always bugged me!!

Dennis Stevens
30 Posted 06/06/2022 at 17:30:09
Danny, the Monaco club side play in the French national league & there is also a national side but the Monaco football federation is not a member of UEFA or FIFA.
Mike Gaynes
31 Posted 06/06/2022 at 17:38:16
Interesting, Dennis. San Marino and Gibraltar are members, but Monaco isn't.
Danny O’Neill
32 Posted 06/06/2022 at 18:25:20
I didn't realise that Dennis. Both that there was a club side and a national side. Also that the national side wasn't a member of UEFA.

I've felt for a long time now that there should be an FA Cup style qualification approach to international football.

The current international framework is akin to having the Premier League involved in the FA Cup from the preliminaries as early as August.

Mike Gaynes
33 Posted 06/06/2022 at 18:32:46
Another good day for Richarlison, continuing to cement his place for Brazil -- subs on for Fred in the 71st minute against Japan, draws a penalty for Neymar to put away. Brazil wins 0-1 in Tokyo.
Dennis Stevens
34 Posted 06/06/2022 at 18:56:09
Too right, Danny. Even Eurovision has split into two divisions!
Stephen Brown
36 Posted 06/06/2022 at 19:48:26
From one Welsh Evertonian to another (Gary Speed) – well done and thanks!!! You started this resurgence!

Surely would have been Everton manager too one day!!

Hope he's looking down with pride!

Robert Williams
37 Posted 06/06/2022 at 20:21:11
Keiran @28,

I don't think that the Welsh team are anything special either, but go back a few years and you would see 10 outfield players running around like headless chickens after the same ball. Now they have discipline, they have a half-decent coach and the FAW have a few quid to support the team.

Add to that a fervent (small – like Everton) Nation, hungry for success and players fully committed to make a name for themselves, and become legends and national heroes, and who knows where they may end up in the mix of things?

As we Evertonians know, that passion is a big part of the game, we have been crying out for it all season. Wales has the passion and the yearning and between now and mid November that passion will be cranked up to challenge the mighty Engerland, the mighty US of A, and the whole Iranian Republican Guard – or what ever they put in front of us little Welsh. C'mon, Cymru am Byth.

Ian Bennett
38 Posted 06/06/2022 at 20:41:19
Spot on about Gary Speed. He'd be proud of them.
Jamie Crowley
39 Posted 06/06/2022 at 21:44:25
Kieran @28,

That's a much more balanced, fair point.

The group the USA would be drawn into would make a massive difference to whether or not they qualified.

Point taken. I'd still like their odds, but the group draw would absolutely be massive if the US had to qualify out of UEFA.

Also, a shout out to Canada. Canada is really good. They have such a team that works so well together. Their coach is fantastic. I was so impressed with them in qualifying.

They've been drawn into a brutal group with Belgium and Croatia. But I'll be rooting on the neighbors to the north with gusto. I really hope they make it out. The people of Canada deserve it, even though they've elected a communist nut job Prime Minister! 😂😜

Neil Lawson
40 Posted 06/06/2022 at 22:34:46
I find much of what is written above very disappointing. Wales are an average side at best with many players from lower leagues. However, they were superbly organised, played with tremendous courage and commitment and were roared on by their fantastic supporters à la the Palace game.

Yes, they had their share of good fortune but I, for one, was thrilled to bits that they were successful. It is sad for Ukraine and their brave footballers but that is the game.

You also must admire and applaud the respect shown by the Welsh players and supporters to the Ukrainians and their supporters. Well done, Wales. I hope you qualify with England and progress well into the knockout stages.

Danny O’Neill
41 Posted 06/06/2022 at 22:48:59
Interesting views. Wales deserve to be where they are. They've always produced good individual players but never quite hit it off as a team. That's the difference with this generation. Sorry to harp on about the '80s, but Southall, Van den Hauwe (yes Belgian by birth), Ratcliffe, Hughes. Giggs beyond that.

I know generally population counts, but some of the European nations that have produced the best players and teams are amongst the smallest in terms of population.

Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Croatia of recent times.

Mike Doyle
42 Posted 06/06/2022 at 23:07:47
Danny. The fact that the final tournament now has space for 32 teams probably helps smaller nations qualify (pre-1982 only 16 countries qualified for the finals).

I believe It's due to increase again in 2026 – so the Isle of Man 🇮🇲 could even be represented!

Neil Lawson
43 Posted 06/06/2022 at 23:36:05
Don't forget Roy Vernon and Dai the Drop. Us oldies won't. Barry Horne too. Numerous other fringe players but they were unlikely to ignite your interest. (Pembridge, Smallbone to mention but two. Yep. Told you!)
Ed Prytherch
44 Posted 07/06/2022 at 00:23:26
I like listening to the Wales fans. Singing instead of chanting. I'm English but I find "Men of Harlech' most inspiring.

Neil, thanks for reminding us of Roy Vernon. He scored twice in the first Everton match that I attended.

Danny O’Neill
45 Posted 07/06/2022 at 05:57:38
I think the Welsh Anthem tops them all Ed. Spine tingling.

Probably controversial to say in the current situation, but it's not meant like that, but I've always found the Russian / former Soviet anthem quite stirring too.

I've also always thought that England should have an anthem rather than using that of the UK as if it's their own.

Ed Prytherch
46 Posted 07/06/2022 at 16:52:07

The French and Italian anthems are also rousing but God Save the Queen sounds like a funeral march and the American anthem is almost impossible to sing.

Dennis Stevens
47 Posted 07/06/2022 at 17:32:33
Aye, Ed. I always liked Billy Connolly's suggestion of the Archers theme! At least it's not a dreary dirge.
Ed Prytherch
48 Posted 07/06/2022 at 17:43:25
I hadn't heard that. Dennis, it's a good one.

The Aussies should have chosen Waltzing Matilda instead of that forgettable one that they have.

Dennis Stevens
49 Posted 07/06/2022 at 18:01:50
My personal preference for a good tune for a national anthem:

Guns of Navarone – The Specials

Gerry Quinn
50 Posted 09/06/2022 at 17:04:31
On the web wrt Ukraine and our Seamus/Vitali

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