No firepower and no fortune – and now no hosts left at party

Ukraine thought only one man could save them, whatever condition he was in

The Donbass Arena

Tournament football is nearly always poorer for the hosts departing and amid the euphoria of England's qualification, consider a thought for Ukraine who faltered on the biggest night of their professional lives.

Although a 2006 World Cup quarter-final defeat in their only previous tournament outing since achieving independence 21 years ago runs it close in that regard, last night was the chance for a country so often partitioned through history to unite in the hope of keeping host nation representation alive.

The mood changed in the Donbass Arena as news came through that Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin had not been bluffing as many anticipated and that talismanic striker Andriy Shevchenko's knee injury was sufficiently restrictive to omit him from the starting line-up.

Instead, Marko Devic and Artem Milevskiy, of Metalist Kharkiv and Dynamo Kiev respectively, were handed the responsibility of summoning the firepower to defeat England.

Blokhin stood in his technical area dictating troop movement, waving his players forward and urging them to embrace the opportunity rather than let it consume them.

His charges responded. England sat deep and invited wave after wave of attack with Devic and Andriy Yarmolenko particularly threatening.

Denys Garmash flashed a shot over Joe Hart's crossbar and England's tight two banks of four were compressed enough to restrict Ukraine to a series of speculative efforts from distance.

John Terry was required to block two such efforts as Ukraine grew in confidence before Yarmolenko curled a left-foot effort which Hart saved with relative ease.

Just as France had found in the same stadium eight days earlier, England's defensive resilience denies space in central areas making opening them up a test of Ukraine's notoriously clever interplay.

Bereft of Shevchenko and the former Liverpool forward Andriy Voronin, Yarmolenko took a more prominent role and nearly weaved his way through courtesy of a fine solo run only to be denied by Joleon Lescott.

Yevhen Konoplyanka almost stopped at one point, urging left-back Yevhen Selin to push forward and provide the requisite width to stretch England but this was a night in which neither side would over commit until it became absolutely necessary.

Despite palpably standing offside, the flag stayed down for Milevskiy's moment, but he headed over unmarked from close range.

Then strike partner Devic was denied as his effort looped up in the air from Hart's attempted save and down over the line before Terry could make a dramatic clearance. Ukraine were denied, not by a Russian linesman, but instead by a Hungarian one.

Due in no small part to that injustice, Devic and Milevskiy were unable to add to their combined 10 goals from 73 caps despite their best efforts.

England were left to consider a degree of tournament karma after Frank Lampard's disallowed goal at the World Cup in South Africa but for Ukraine the feeling their dream was slipping away created a desperation only one man could answer, whatever condition he was in.

Cue Sheva. Devic's evening was brought to an end and Shevchenko ran on for his 111th cap to a rapturous ovation and with 20 minutes to rescue his country.

He never had a chance to score his 49th international goal – his only notable contribution was a yellow card for hacking at Ashley Young – and so this was a sad probable end to a career fittingly bookended by records. Ukraine's youngest ever goalscorer as a 19-year-old in 1996, the 35-year-old became their oldest with a brace against Sweden.

They proved Ukraine's only goals of a tournament for which they must now play the strangely juxtaposed role of distant hosts.

England's supporters sang "We're not going home". Ukraine are but at least they don't have far to travel.

 

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?