Bogdan Sarnavskiy's Ukraine will focus on the European title after claiming a FIFA U-20 World Cup place, with Vyacheslav Tankovskiy thrilled to score the winner against Bulgaria.
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Vyacheslav Tankovskiy and Bogdan Sarnavskiy had an eye on the bigger picture after Ukraine's dramatic UEFA European Under-19 Championship Group B win against Bulgaria.
Captain Sarnavskiy produced another flawless display in goal, saving Antonio Vutov's first-half penalty. That helped to set the stage for Tankovskiy to come off the bench and score the 89th-minute winner, tidying up after Ihor Kharatin's own spot kick had come back off the post. It was a substantial bonus considering what he had been asked to by coach Oleksandr Petrakov.
"Of course I'm very happy now after scoring the winning goal," Tankovskiy told UEFA.com. "Obviously, as a holding midfielder my task is to concentrate on defence, so before introducing me in the second half the coach told me it was very important not to concede in the remaining 20 minutes."
Aside from its significance for the team, the goal was also a moment of personal satisfaction for the FC Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, dropped from the starting lineup following Saturday's draw with Serbia. "I was replaced in the first match against Serbia because I didn't play well," the 18-year-old explained. "I really wanted to redeem myself, so was trying to prepare for this game as well as possible. In the end I only had 20 minutes today but I was trying very hard to show everything I can."
'I guessed where he'd put it'
Sarnavskiy had no such concerns. Having impressed in Saturday's opening Group B game, he excelled again at the Perutz Stadion, particularly with that penalty stop from Vutov. "I guessed where he would kick it," he said. "I forced the player to kick towards the corner I wanted him to – that was my tactic."
The Shakhtar custodian's display was all the more impressive given conditions in Papa, torrential rain making the pitch slick and the ball slippery – although surprisingly, Sarnavskiy found that more straightforward. "The weather conditions were difficult of course, but to be honest when it rains it helps you to concentrate at 100% all the time. It didn't hinder me, it actually helped me. You just can't afford to be distracted even for a second. The ball zipping off the surface isn't a problem – shots in the top corner you can't reach are the issue!"
The win means Ukraine will finish at least third in Group B, confirming their place in next year's FIFA U-20 World Cup. Coach Oleksandr Petrakov told UEFA.com: "I've never had a swim in the ocean, so I am happy I will do it now – in New Zealand." His goalkeeper was similarly thrilled at the prospect, adding: "Before the start of the tournament our goal was to qualify for the World Cup. Now we've done it, so our next goal is to win the European Championship."