Following a stuttering start to their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Ukraine have taken nine points out of nine to lift themselves within a victory of Group H leaders Montenegro.
Their latest win was an emphatic one away to the table-toppers, Mikhail Fomenko's team scoring four goals without reply in Podgorica, despite having Roman Zozulya sent off before half-time. The hosts, meanwhile, finished with nine men, with Vladimir Volkov and Savo Pavićević being dimissed in the space of 25 second-half minutes.
It was an impressive performance and one which, according to captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and midfielder Edmar, had its roots in the strong bonds in Fomenko's squad – although the Ukraine coach himself refuses to get carried away.
Mikhail Fomenko, Ukraine coach
I would not say Montenegro are a weak team, but every team plays as well as the other team allows them to. Now we can catch Montenegro by winning our next game – but we still have to go out and do that. We spoke about that with the lads before tonight's match and we will speak about it later too: we must treat every game like it is our last.
Maybe it was good that [Zozulya's dismissal] came just before the break because we had time to speak with the lads and also slightly tweak our tactics. We managed to regroup and it brought us the result we needed.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Ukraine captain
The most important thing for us was to win. We showed our attitude and did what was almost impossible with a man short. It is a very important win which gives us an opportunity to fight for a finals place.
Everybody believed in victory today. Even after we were left with ten men, we entered the changing room and told each other nothing terrible has happened. We promised to play for ourselves and for each other. We held on and managed to get a fairly deserved win.
Edmar, Ukraine midfielder
We significantly improved our mutual understanding during the training camp. The whole team played very well and proved that it is important to trust yourself and your team-mates. We looked at each other during the break and felt we had a chance to win. We had our opportunities in the first half and Roman Zozulya's dismissal strengthened our motivation. Roman is one of us and this victory is his as well.
Yevhen Konoplyanka, Ukraine midfielder
We decided to play counterattacking football in the first half because we have plenty of pace in our squad. We took advantage of our opponents' mistakes. As a result, we found our rhythm and got the result.
Andriy Yarmolenko, Ukraine striker
We won deservedly and can go on holiday with a good conscience. Preparations for the new season will start soon and we will have to work hard again. Now we just have to get that ticket to Brazil.
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