Ukraine made light of Andriy Shevchenko's absence to win 2-0 against Greece in the EURO EURO 2004™ Group 6 qualifier in Kyiv.
Second-half goals from Andriy Vorobey and Andriy Voronin secured a first victory for Leonid Buryak's men, who were missing the injured AC Milan star, while condemning the visitors to a second defeat in the section.
A great finish
Vorobey struck on 51 minutes, the FC Shakhtar Donetsk player chesting down Hennadiy Zubo's right-wing cross before beating Antonis Nikopolidis with a coruscating finish. Then, after Nikopolidis had done well to keep out Vorobey, it was Voronin who scored the second in injury time, shooting into the top corner after a one-two with Maxym Kalinichenko.
However, Ukraine could consider themselves lucky to have survived a first-half onslaught from the visitors with their defence unbreached. They were also fortunate that Greek substitute Zizis Vryzas passed up a great chance to equalise eleven minutes from time.
Greece go close
Greece had silenced the 50,000 crowd at the Olimpiyskyi stadium in the opening stages, and went close to breaking the deadlock through Themistoklis Nikolaidis. First, the AEK Athens FC striker was denied by an excellent save by Vitaly Reva. Then, moments later, he failed to connect properly with Angelos Charisteas's centre with the goal gaping.
Giorgos Karagounis also fired narrowly wide as the visitors looked to make amends for their opening home defeat by Spain. Coach Otto Rehhagel said ruefully: "We did not take our chances early in the first half when we dominated."
Then, however, Buryak changed the course of the game with a double substitution on 25 minutes, replacing Serhiy Serebrennikov and Gennadiy Moroz with goal hero Voronin and Olexandr Radchenko. The effect was immediate. Voronin announced his arrival with an effort that fizzed centimetres wide before hitting the crossbar soon after.
Naturally, the coach was delighted with the result, particularly after last month's 2-2 draw in Armenia. "It is an important victory, especially after the first game," Buryak said. "We are building a new team and it is not so easy - but I could not be happier for my players." The only downside for the hosts were the injuries to Andriy Nesmachniy and Serebrennikov which could rule them out of Wednesday's game against Northern Ireland in Belfast.
Greek woes add up
For Rehhagel, the outlook was bleaker, the defeat leaving his side bottom of the table ahead of Armenia's visit to Athens, also on Wednesday. "After this second loss our position in the group is much worse, but we still have time to fix things," the German trainer said.