Republic of Ireland earn a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in the Nations League
Ireland come forward with a creditable 1-1 draw against Ukraine in the Nations League as Artem Dovbyk cancels Nathan Collins’ opener to leave Stephen Kenny’s side one point from the bottom of Group B1
- The Republic of Ireland was held in a 1-1 draw by Ukraine in the Nations League
- Nathan Collins opened the scoring with a beautiful goal in the first half for Ireland
- Bur Ukrainian attacker Artem Dovbyk equalized just two minutes after the break
Defender Nathan Collins scored a sensational solo goal as the Republic of Ireland came out of their Nations League clash with Ukraine with a creditable draw.
The 21-year-old Burnley centre-back made his way through the home side’s mesmerized ranks before firing past stranded goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk with the outside of his right foot in front of a largely stunned crowd of 10,641 in the Polish city of Lodz.
Collins’ first international goal was ultimately only enough to claim a 1-1 draw against the Euro 2020 quarter-finalists, who they lost 1-0 at Aviva Stadium last week, after Artem Dovbyk equalized to make sure to keep his side on top of League B Group One when they return to action in September.
A largely inexperienced team from Ireland – with the notable exception of James McClean, who won his 94th cap – performed admirably at LKS Stadium, with Collins, Dara O’Shea, Josh Cullen and Jason Knight particularly impressive to provide manager Stephen Kenny with further justification of his view.
Kenny had to rearrange and on offense, with Shane Duffy, John Egan and Michael Obafemi unavailable, and that meant starts for O’Shea, Darragh Lenihan, who made his league debut, and, for the first time since September 2019, Scott Hogan .
Led by McClean, who joked at the pre-match press conference that the team chief was more likely to get the bracelet, the visitors started on the front foot. with an early cross from Troy Parrott that got keeper Dmytro Riznyk in trouble.
Ukraine, which had been three back in line in Dublin last Wednesday night, opted for four this time and allowed the dangerous Mykola Shaparenko to take on a more advanced role, although it was Ruslan Malinovskyi who tested goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher with a snapshot of the 11th minute.
However, the visitors should have been up front in seven minutes when Knight took advantage of Illia Zabarnyi’s slip to cross over to the unmarked Parrott.
Kelleher was back in action when defender Mykola Matviyenko with a ball over the top in the 22nd minute put Vitaliy Mykolenko behind fullback Alan Browne, the keeper who blocked the defender’s first attempt before Browne recovered to fend off his follow-up.
With Malinovskyi’s early departure through injury and the arrival of Mykhailo Mudryk as his replacement, Shaparenko dropped back into midfield with Serhiy Sydorchuk, restoring the partnership that had proved so successful at Aviva.
However, it was the playmaker’s 31-minute pass that was picked by Collins, who strode forward, dodging challenges from Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sydorchuk and Zabarnyi before skillfully pushing the ball past the advancing Riznyk to open the score in stunning style.
Full-back Oleksandr Karavaev fired over from a tight corner and skipper Andriy Yarmolenko saw penalty calls brushed aside by Turkish referee Ali Palabiyik after he fell under O’Shea’s challenge when the home side reacted.
However, Knight had forced a save from Riznyk in the meantime and the halftime signal came with Ireland’s lead intact.
However, it stayed that way for less than two minutes after the restart when Yarmolenko found half a meter past McClean to cross low and give Dovbyk the simplest task of levelling.
Lenihan pushed through after Josh Cullen’s free kick fell invitingly in front of him, but Ukraine had their tails raised as the midfield battle became more and more physical and Ireland clung forever.
To their credit, they made their way back to the come and Parrott saw a forcefully batted effort deflected into the side net before Knight once again let Riznyk dive in front of his goal.
A hugely entertaining match continued to boil until the final whistle, but neither side were able to create a decisive moment as the spoils were shared.
The opening goal came from an unlikely angle as Irish central defender Nathan Collins came home
The defender defeated three men before skilfully closing with the outside of his boot