Ukraine 0-0 Scotland: Steve Clarke's side earn Nations League promotion - BBC Sport
UEFA Nations League - Group B1
UkraineUkraine0ScotlandScotland0

Ukraine 0-0 Scotland: Steve Clarke's side earn Nations League promotion

By Thomas DuncanBBC Scotland
Ukraine v Scotland
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon played his part with some crucial saves to keep Ukraine out

A depleted Scotland earned promotion to the top tier of the Nations League - and a Euro 2024 play-off place - after a defensively disciplined and brave display clinched the point they needed against Ukraine.

Missing 10 important players, Steve Clarke's side rode their luck at times in Krakow as Ukraine created several clear cut chances.

But profligacy and some wonderful goalkeeping from Craig Gordon earned a vital point which sealed Scotland top spot in Group B1.

It also capped an impressive turnaround for the national side after the disappointment of losing to Ukraine in June's World Cup play-off, and puts them into Pot 2 for the qualifying draw for the European Championships on 9 October.

That enhances Scotland's chances of another major tournament, which is a great reward for an impressive international window in which Clarke's squad has shown different qualities while being stretched to the limit.

Injuries to defenders Scott McKenna and Kieran Tierney added more problems before the trip to Krakow, and resulted in Hibernian centre-back Ryan Porteous making his debut in game of huge importance.

But he, partner Jack Hendry, and Aaron Hickey were outstanding in keeping Ukraine out for the most part, though Oleksandr Petrakov's side will also rue some big misses.

Table

The worst came from Andriy Yarmolenko after just seven minutes, as the former West Ham midfielder blazed over unmarked after a fantastic cross from Mykhaylo Mudryk.

But there were others too, with Gordon denying Artem Dovbyk when clean through, and then Mudryk's curling effort from distance was pushed wide by the Hearts goalkeeper.

Taras Stepanenko also headed wide from six yards despite working himself into good space.

Scotland had some good moments early on, with Che Adams forcing Andriy Lunin into a fine save after two minutes and Ryan Jack firing over inside the box. A penalty awarded for handball was overturned, too, after the referee checked again at the monitor at the direction of the video assistant referee.

But the second half was mainly about tiring bodies staying focussed, which they did until the death as Porteous produced a last-ditch tackle in the final minute to stop Oleksandr Zubvok firing a shot on goal from just inside the box.

Player of the match - Aaron Hickey

Aaron Hickey
Hickey just edges Porteous to the award. On the whole he marshalled the dangerous Mudryk extremely well, and was also good going forward in the first half, drawing a four fouls and finishing with more final third entries than any Scotland player. The Brentford full-back has come of age for Scotland.

Scotland show depth and versatility - analysis

Clarke was visibly delighted as he shared an embrace with his staff at full-time, having guided his team from deflation in the summer, through a physically demanding window to Nations League promotion.

It all demonstrated Scotland's depth, versatility, and the head coach's ability to ensure every player in the squad knows their role, having switched from a back five to 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation for these three games.

Captain Andy Robertson was missing for all three games; Nathan Patterson didn't last 45 minutes in the first Ukraine match; Tierney went off injured against Republic of Ireland; McKenna wasn't fit to play in Krakow; Scott McTominay was suspended.

But despite that, Scotland coped. Hickey was magnificent again, and Porteous was almost flawless alongside Hendry on his debut. Arguably none of that trio were first choice last Monday.

In the 3-0 win against Ukraine, Scotland showed their ability to play on the front foot at high intensity; against Ireland they demonstrated nous to come from behind in tough circumstances; and the return against Ukraine was about good organisation, focus, and heart.

With the best collection of players in 25 years, a Pot 2 seeding and a fall-back play-off if needed, Scotland are in an amazing position to reach back-to-back European Championships. How they've earned it this week.

Match stats

  • Ukraine are unbeaten in 12 'home' matches since losing against Germany in October 2020 (W4 D8).
  • Scotland are unbeaten in their last four games in Poland, since losing a friendly against the Poles in May 1980 (W1 D3).
  • They have had three goalless draws Steve Clarke, having not registered one since November 2013 v United States under Gordon Strachan.
  • Scotland have kept five clean sheets across their last nine away matches, having gone eight away games without a shutout prior to this run.
  • They have lost just two of their last 15 games in all competitions (W10 D3), having lost three games in four prior (D1).

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Line-ups

Ukraine

Formation 4-3-3

  • 12Lunin
  • 18Tymchyk
  • 13Zabarnyi
  • 22Matviyenko
  • 16Mykolenko
  • 8MalinovskyiBooked at 90minsSubstituted forPikhalyonokat 87'minutes
  • 6Stepanenko
  • 14IgnatenkoBooked at 27mins
  • 7YarmolenkoBooked at 23minsSubstituted forZubkovat 87'minutes
  • 11DovbykSubstituted forYaremchukat 75'minutes
  • 10MudrykBooked at 16minsSubstituted forTsygankovat 75'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Volynets
  • 2Bondar
  • 3Mykhailichenko
  • 4Kryvtsov
  • 5Sarapyi
  • 9Yaremchuk
  • 15Tsygankov
  • 17Pikhalyonok
  • 19Kacharaba
  • 20Zubkov
  • 21Karavaev
  • 23Riznyk

Scotland

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Gordon
  • 22HickeyBooked at 62minsSubstituted forRalstonat 90+1'minutes
  • 13Hendry
  • 5Porteous
  • 3TaylorSubstituted forKingsleyat 72'minutes
  • 19FraserSubstituted forChristieat 72'minutes
  • 20JackSubstituted forS Armstrongat 72'minutes
  • 8McGregor
  • 23McLean
  • 7McGinn
  • 10AdamsSubstituted forDykesat 79'minutesBooked at 84mins

Substitutes

  • 2Gallagher
  • 6Kingsley
  • 9Dykes
  • 11Christie
  • 12Kelly
  • 14Gilmour
  • 15McKay
  • 16Ralston
  • 17S Armstrong
  • 18Doig
  • 21McCrorie
Referee:
Anastasios Sidiropoulos
Attendance:
13,534

Match Stats

Home TeamUkraineAway TeamScotland
Possession
Home54%
Away46%
Shots
Home12
Away7
Shots on Target
Home3
Away1
Corners
Home5
Away5
Fouls
Home14
Away6

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Ukraine 0, Scotland 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Ukraine 0, Scotland 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Taras Stepanenko (Ukraine) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Viktor Tsygankov with a cross following a corner.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Ukraine. Conceded by Ryan Christie.

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, Scotland. Anthony Ralston replaces Aaron Hickey.

  6. Booking

    Ruslan Malinovskyi (Ukraine) is shown the yellow card.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Ukraine. Conceded by Ryan Christie.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Oleksandr Pikhalyonok (Ukraine) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Oleksandr Pikhalyonok (Ukraine) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Oleksandr Zubkov.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Ukraine. Oleksandr Zubkov replaces Andriy Yarmolenko.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Ukraine. Oleksandr Pikhalyonok replaces Ruslan Malinovskyi.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Illia Zabarnyi (Ukraine).

  13. Post update

    Lyndon Dykes (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Booking

    Lyndon Dykes (Scotland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  15. Post update

    Mykola Matviyenko (Ukraine) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Lyndon Dykes (Scotland).

  17. Post update

    Foul by Vitaliy Mykolenko (Ukraine).

  18. Post update

    John McGinn (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Viktor Tsygankov (Ukraine).

  20. Post update

    Aaron Hickey (Scotland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

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Scores, Results & Fixtures

Tuesday 27th September 2022

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Croatia641186213
2Denmark640295412
3France612357-25
4Austria6114610-44

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain632185311
2Portugal6312113810
3Switzerland630369-39
4Czech Rep6114513-84
5TBC00000000

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Italy632187111
2Hungary63128