Ukraine are into the elite round again after the 2009 winners topped qualifying round Group 4, Russia joining their neighbours in the next stage having edged out Denmark in a three-way tie.
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There was a dramatic conclusion to UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying round Group 4, 2009 winners Ukraine and Russia edging out Denmark to claim the top two places after the trio had all finished on six points.
All these sides defeated Sweden, and gained a win and a loss against each other, meaning a three-way tie-break was needed. On that reckoning Ukraine, who lost their last game 2-1 to Russia, still topped the section with Denmark having to wait to see if they will also be in the 30 November elite round draw as one of the two third-placed sides with the best record against the top pair in their section across the 13 groups.
Ukraine got off to a winning start thanks to a Pylyp Budkivskiy double against Denmark, whose captain Nicolai Boilesen had a penalty saved by Artur Denchuk with the score at 1-0 – a moment that would prove crucial for both teams. Russia, meanwhile, saw off section hosts Sweden, for whom Oscar Hiljemark twice equalised. Igor Kireev and Nikita Bocharov scored in the final 10 minutes to clinch a 4-2 win.
On Matchday 2 Ukraine faced a Sweden side who pinned back their opponents for much of the match. They failed to match their chances count, however, and paid the price when Ivan Ordets headed the only goal on 68 minutes. Russia looked set to join Ukraine on six points when Aleksandr Kozlov gave them a 63rd-minute advantage against Denmark, yet Dario Dumić levelled in the 89th minute and Per Andersen's side snatched all three points thanks to Casper Offenberg's dramatic winner three minutes into added time.
A 3-0 final-day defeat of Sweden in which Mads Dittmer Hvilsom scored twice kept alive Danish hopes of a top-two finish, especially when Oleksandr Karavayev put Ukraine in front against Russia in the 37th minute. The half-time introduction of Georgi Nurov changed the course of the match, however, the FC Lokomotiv Moskva striker equalising in the 57 minutes and adding the winner 15 minutes later.
That meant Ukraine finished in first position despite the defeat, their coach Oleksandr Golovko saying: "We won this group because all of us did our job. We showed a lot of soul and spirit. Every match has key moments. Even when you are not involved yourselves, Russia's late defeat against Denmark sent us well on the way to the elite round."
"To qualify for the next round was more difficult than we expected," Russia's hero Nurov admitted. "We thought we would beat Denmark and it wouldn't be difficult against Ukraine, but it was not so. However, I am happy that we were able to achieve our goal. I scored two goals today but the whole team worked for this win. I think it's fair that Russia and Ukraine have qualified."