Oleh Gusev's second-half header was enough for Ukraine to earn a deserved 1-0 victory against Lithuania in Odessa as Oleh Blokhin's team rose to the Group B summit, level on points with Scotland and France.
Gusev struck two minutes after the restart, climbing highest to direct a cross from the impressive Maxym Kalynychenko past Paulius Grybauskas as Ukraine gained a third consecutive win in UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying. It was no more than they merited and the only surprise was it took them so long to break the deadlock. Andriy Voronin, Kalynychenko and Taras Mikhalik all fired wide in the opening stages as Ukraine immediately took the game to the visitors.
It needed a brilliant block from Marius Stankevicius to deny Voronin midway through the half after the striker applied a powerful goal-bound shot to Andriy Shevchenko's cross. Grybauskas was a relieved man in the Lithuania goal but he was finally forced into action after the half-hour, collecting Kalynychenko's low effort. Olexandr Shovkovskiy was even more anonymous in the Ukraine goal, save for watching Mantas Savenas's attempt sail over the bar, though as the sides went in for half-time Lithuania's hopes were still intact.
Gusev's 47th-minute goal could have deflated them but the away team responded well, and Tomas Danilevicius soon had Shovkovskiy scrambling across his goal. Coach Algimantas Liubinskas then brought on three attacking substitutes in quick succession, but despite one of them, Mindaugas Kalonas, demanding a save from long range, an equaliser never really looked likely. Instead, the home side sought to add to their advantage, Kalynychenko, Voronin and Anatoliy Tymoschuk all going close for the new group leaders whose next assignment is a top-of-table meeting with France in June.