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Ukraine boost their Euro final hopes defeating North Macedonia

Andriy Yarmolenko scored one goal and set up Roman Yaremchuk for second as Ukraine beat North Macedonia 2-1 on Thursday to boost their hopes of the Euro 2020 final. The West Ham striker opened the scoring in the 29th minute in Bucharest and then beat Yaremchuk. A brilliant first pass to double the advantage five minutes later. Izan Alioski pulled back a goal for North Macedonia just before the hour mark, while recovering from his missed penalty, while Ukrainian midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi also saved a late shot.

After ending Ukraine’s six-match losing streak, Andriy Shevchenko’s side is now tied with Austria and the Netherlands on three points in Group C. Newcomers have lost their first two matches at major tournaments in North Macedonia and will be eliminated if the Dutch avoid a loss against Austria in Amsterdam, where a win for both sides will ensure a place in the knockout stage.

Ukraine’s 3–2 loss to the Netherlands at the end of last weekend equaled them with the longest losing streak in the history of the football tournament, a record shared with Yugoslavia, but they had a fine finish over Macedonia in the last 16. 

Yarmolenko moved closer to Shevchenko’s all-time mark in Ukraine with 48 goals, hitting for the third game in a row as he entered a corner from a free-kick following a clever shot by Oleksandr Karavaev. Yeremchuk was guilty of missing a goal early in the game, but Gent’s striker made no mistake when a brilliant pass from Yarmolenko released him squeezing the ball between Stole Dimitrievski and his own post.

The North Macedonian goalkeeper reacted brilliantly to a distracted move from Karaev, minutes after veteran captain Goran Pandev canceled the attempt for offside at the other end. Dmitrievski defeated Malinovskyi’s free-kick at the start of the second half, keeping the Macedonians in the game after a good comeback from Heorhiy Bushchan‘s Arijan Azemi.

North Macedonia, which shocked Germany in the March World Cup qualifiers, returned to the game seconds after a curling effort from Aleksandar Trajkovski on the crossbar after a superb defense from Bushchan. Karavaev fouled Pandev as the two looked to recover, and although Bushchan dismissed Alioski’s shot on the spot, the Leeds player followed to give the Macedonian renewed optimism.

Bushchan defended another long journey from Trajkovski, while Ukraine looked to win despite missing two great chances in the final stage. Substitute Viktor Tsygankov hit wide after a relentless movement, and Malinovskyi’s penalty was rejected by Dmitrievsky when a VAR review revealed a handball by Daniel Avramovski. 

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