A last-gasp goal from defender Serhiy Fyodorov gave Ukraine a crucial 4-3 victory at home to Armenia at the Ukraina stadium in Lyiv.
In touch at the top
Fyodorov's strike three minutes into injury time ensured that his country stayed in touch with leaders Spain at the top of UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying Group 6. Ukraine have taken nine points from their five matches so far, remaining unbeaten, and face the side immediately below them, Greece, away on Wednesday.
Armenia remain in fourth position with four points from four matches, and next face Greece at home in September. The visitors caught Ukraine by surprise, taking the lead in the 13th minute as Oleg Luzhny brought down Armenian striker Arman Karamyan inside the penalty area and Albert Sarkisyan converted the resulting spot-kick.
The home side recovered from the early setback and drew level two minutes before the half-hour, as Olexandr Horshkov headed in Andriy Shevchenko's corner. The AC Milan striker then nearly gave his side the lead himself, shooting against the crossbar from a narrow angle.
Armenia back in front
Against expectations, however, it was the away team who scored the next goal, as Sarkisyan restored their lead, scoring with a powerful 40-metre shot that caught Ukraine goalkeeper Dmytro Shutkov unawares.
Shevchenko then scored twice in five minutes midway through the second half to turn the match in the home side's favour, first equalising from the penalty spot after 65 minutes and then beating Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky again moments later.
All square again
However, Armenia refused to accept defeat and seemed to have earned a draw when Artur Petrosyan equalised with 16 minutes remaining, but Fyodorov's dramatic intervention finally proved decisive for Ukraine.
'Lessons must be learnt'
"It will take some time to take all of this in," said Ukraine coach Leonid Buriak. "Both teams made a number of terrible mistakes, and that's why seven goals were scored. We rescued ourselves but I must praise my players for winning, although we need to learn a lesson from the game."
"I can't say anything bad about my side; this is simply bad luck," said his Armenia counterpart, Mihai Stoichita. "We surprised the hosts in the first half, and tried to play on the counterattack in the second. But in the end I think the physical condition of Ukraine told, plus Shevchenko was a factor, of course. But we're not ashamed to return home after this."