Ukraine bade farewell to UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ with their first ever win in the final tournament, the competition newcomers delivering Group A winners Finland a 1-0 defeat that ended their perfect record in the group stage.
Both teams knew their fates before kick-off, with the hosts heading to the quarter-finals in Turku next week and Ukraine destined to finish bottom in the section, but there was plenty of hunger on show in both camps. And while Michael Käld's team looked a notch above in most departments, they were guilty of falling asleep for Ukraine's winner, Tuija Hyyrynen's under-hit back-pass allowing Lyudmyla Pekur to steal in on goal and finish with 69 minutes gone.
Ukraine coach Anatoliy Kutsev kept his promise to field a strong lineup, whereas Käld made four changes to the team that defeated the Netherlands, protecting Sanna Valkonen from aggravating a knock and Anna Westerlund from picking up a yellow card that would rule her out of the quarter-finals. However, it was the hosts who sparked the first threat, with captain Anne Mäkinen stinging Iryna Zvarych's hands after being played in by Laura Österberg Kalmari. Annica Sjölund then scooped a shot over as she raced in behind the Ukraine defence.
The hosts were continually exposing their opponents' rigid rearguard with through balls, and though Pekur's cross-shot against the crossbar and a Nataliya Zinchenko long-range effort briefly interrupted the one-way traffic, Finland's crossing was proving dangerous too. That was especially true for Zvarych, the Ukrainian No1 forced to make way for Nadiya Baranova on 39 minutes following a clash of heads with Österberg Kalmari. Soon after, Finland winger Katri Nokso-Koivisto drilled wide from another centre.
Mäkinen was replaced by Linda Sällström after the restart as the home side continued their domination, and they would have had the lead on 50 minutes if Österberg Kalmari had not blocked a goalbound Tiina Salmén header. That chance came from a corner and from a corner at the other end Zinchenko poked the ball just wide. In the end, it took a defensive error to bring about the only goal of the game and, try as they might, Finland were unable to bring themselves back on level terms.
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