Striker Daryna Apanaschenko said Ukraine's 1-0 victory over Finland meant her side could at least leave UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ with a smile and a sense of achievement from their final game.
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Striker Daryna Apanaschenko said Ukraine's 1-0 victory against Finland meant her side could at least leave UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ with a smile and a sense of achievement from their final game.
Already eliminated from the competition after defeats by Netherlands and Denmark guaranteed they would finish fourth in Group A, Apanaschenko indicated it had become a matter of team pride to secure a first victory in their first appearance at a UEFA European Women's Championship. "This match did not mean a lot for us in terms of our group position," she told uefa.com after their victory over the quarter-finalists. "We just wanted to win it for ourselves. We did it and I am very happy."
Coach Anatoliy Kutsev, keen that his side make the most of their first taste of major tournament football, had also made it clear that this was a fixture to be taken seriously. "The coach said that it was an important match for us because we don't often play at such a level as this ... and that we needed to play our game," she said. "Then at half-time, he didn't make any tactical changes, he just gave us moral support."
Though Lyudmyla Pekur scored the winner in the 69th minute, Apanaschenko was a constant threat to the Finland rearguard and might have scored a second for Ukraine in the 80th, a clever jink on the edge of the box that beat her opponent gave the 23-year-old Zvezda-2005 forward her chance for a shot that flew just wide of the target. "I was satisfied with my performance today," she said. "But I was not up to the mark in terms of my physical condition."
The finals in Finland will certainly help Kutsev's team develop and to see where they stand in terms of the top level in the women's game in Europe. For Apanaschenko, her experiences in Group B have already given her the opportunity to change a few of her own ideas. "Before the tournament, I thought that the strongest team in our group was Denmark," she said. "But I changed my mind after our game against them. All teams are equal at this competition."