Ukraine celebrate emotional Euro 2024 qualification thanks to Mykhailo Mudryk winner

Ukraine triumphed over Iceland to reach this summer’s Euro 2024 finals amid the ongoing war with Russia

Nick Said
Wednesday 27 March 2024 07:17 GMT
Chelsea winger Mykhailo Mudryk scored the goal to send Ukraine through
Chelsea winger Mykhailo Mudryk scored the goal to send Ukraine through (Getty Images)

Ukraine‘s tears of despair turned to joy after qualification for Euro 2024 was achieved with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Iceland in their play-off final played in a neutral but partisan Wroclaw Stadium in Poland.

Viktor Tsygankov and Mykhailo Mudryk scored second half goals as it was mission accomplished in a campaign where Ukraine have been forced to play “home” fixtures in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Poland following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of the country that sparked a war which still rages.

Albert Gudmundsson had put Iceland ahead in the first half but they surrendered possession and the initiative as they struggled to contain their opponents for much of the contest.

It is a fourth straight visit to the continental finals for Ukraine who take their place in Group E with Belgium, Slovakia and Romania, who they open their campaign against on June 17.

“Thank you boys! Thank you to the team! For proving once again that when Ukrainians face challenges but refuse to give up and continue the fight, they invariably win,” Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a message on Telegram.

Chants of “Ukraine, Ukraine” rang around the stadium, the scenes of jubilation and yellow and blue flags waving not far removed from what might be expected if the game was in Kyiv.

Ukraine captain Oleksandr Zinchenko celebrates his country’s win (Getty Images)

Poland is home to a large number of refugees from the war, many of whom will have been in the stadium to witness one of their team’s greatest triumphs given the circumstances.

It makes up for Ukraine missing out on the last World Cup after a playoff defeat by Wales and for the second game running they had to come from behind to secure victory after snatching a 2-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Thursday’s semi-final.

“I think this is a very important victory for the entire Ukrainian people, for our soldiers,” coach Serhiy Rebrov told reporters.

“I am very happy for the players, because these two (playoff) games were very difficult and nerve-wracking. Both before and after the matches, we said that these victories are for our country, people, defenders who defend our freedom.

“Everyone understands how important this victory is.”

Gudmundsson scored a sublime goal to give Iceland the lead on the half-hour mark as he picked up the ball just outside the box, beat two defenders to make the space and rifled a precise shot into the corner of the net.

The start of the second half was frenetic and Ukraine drew level with a fine equaliser.

Tsygankov was picked out on the right wing and cut inside, drifting into a central position before firing low into the bottom corner of the net with his left foot.

Ukraine keeper Andriy Lunin made a superb stop to deny Jon Thorsteinsson, sprawling to his left to claw away a curling effort from just inside the area, and it was Ukraine who then found the winning moment.

Mudryk scored only his second international goal as he latched onto a cut-back from Georgiy Sudakov and buried the ball into the net, as well as Iceland’s hopes, leaving Ukrainians to celebrate a victory that gives their team a place in Germany.


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in