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Substitute salvages Ukraine win

Ukraine 1-0 Northern Ireland Unbeaten Ukraine keep their hopes of topping Group 6 alive.

Fine save
Ukraine had won only one and drawn five of their six matches before tonight and needed victory to retain any chance of overhauling both Spain and Greece at the head of Group 6. Kostyantin Balabanov and Ruslan Bidnenko both went close for the home team in the opening ten minutes, the latter forcing a fine save from visiting goalkeeper Alan Blayney.

Visitors' effort
Northern Irish debutant Sammy Clingan then had a powerful shot of his own saved as his side searched for their first win of the group. The visitors moved forward strongly for the rest of the half, but did not have another effort on target.

Substitute scores
There was a warning for the away side early in the second half when Ruslan Rotan's free-kick forced Blayney to save, and on 58 minutes Ukraine went ahead when substitute Serhiy Danylovskyy found the target.

Ukraine opportunity
Olexiy Godin had a shot blocked soon afterwards, but third-placed Ukraine had done enough for victory and know that a win in their final qualifier in Spain on Tuesday would send them to the top of the group - although both the Spanish and Greece have further matches on 10 October.

Armenian meeting
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland face Armenia on Tuesday knowing a 2-0 or three-goal win would lift them off the bottom of the group.