Ukraine revived their hopes of advancing to the World Cup's second round with a crushing 4-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in Group H yesterday.
Goals from Andriy Rusol and Serhiy Rebrov had given a fired-up Ukrainian side a deserved 2-0 lead before Andrei Shevchenko headed home from an inswinging free-kick just a minute after half-time. Shevchenko's run and pull-back then set up the midfielder Maksim Kalini-chenko for a tap-in for the fourth in the 84th minute.
"We knew it was a decisive match for us," said the Ukraine coach, Oleg Blokhin. "I'd like to congratulate the players for bouncing back."
The Saudi Arabia coach, Marcos Paqueta, was left to rue the wet conditions. "We don't have a lot of rain in Saudi Arabia and so it's not easy to play on the wet ground. It created more difficulties. It was like Ukraine found in the first game when they had to play in the heat."
The eastern Europeans dominated Blokhin changed their formation to 3-5-2 following last week's 4-0 drubbing by Spain. The greater width brought a series of crosses which troubled a nervous Saudi defence. The Saudis showed promise, but created few clear-cut chances.
Ukraine had already gone close when the centre-back Rusol burst on to a Kalinichenko corner to give them their first goal in a World Cup finals after just four minutes, kneeing home from six yards. The Saudi keeper Mabrouk Zaid then slipped on the sodden pitch as he tried to block a dipping long-range drive from Rebrov which made it 2-0.
Apart from scoring the third goal the new Chelsea signing Shevchenko linked up encouragingly with Andriy Voronin up front.
Saudi Arabia: Zayed (Al-Ittihad); Dokhi (Al-Ittihad), Tukar (Al-Ittihad), Al Montashari (Al-Ittihad), Sulimani (Al-Ahli), Al Ghamdi (Al-Hilal), Ameen (Al-Ittihad),
Noor (Al-Ittihad), Khariri (Al-Ittihad), Aziz (Al-Hilal), Al Qahtani (Al-Hilal).
Substitutes used: Khathran (Al-Hilal) for Fokhi, 55; Mouath (Al-Ahli) for Ameen, 55; Al Jaber (Al-Hilal) for Noor, 77.
Ukraine: Shovkovskiy (Dynamo Kiev); Nesmachniy (Dynamo Kiev), Rusol (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Sviderskiy (A Kiev), Tymoschuk (S Donetsk), Shelayev (Dnipro D), Gusev (Dynamo Kiev), Rebrov (Dynamo Kiev), Kalinichenko (Spartak Moscow), Shevchenko (Chelsea), Voronin (Bayer Leverkusen).
Substitutes used: Rotan (Dynamo Kiev) for Rebrov, 71, Gusin (Krylya S Samara) for Voronin, 79; Milevskiy (Dynamo Kiev) for Shevchenko, 86.
Referee: Graham Poll (England).Reuse content