Ukraine 3, Scotland 1
Friday 12 October, 2018
Obolon Arena, Kiev
UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifiers
Ukraine: Oleksandr Zubkov (32, 56), Viktor Kovalenko (90+4)
Scotland: Lewis Morgan (1)
Scot Gemmill’s side left Kiev beaten but not broken after a spirited performance in the Ukrainian capital.
While defeat sees the Scotland Under-21s miss out on the chance of a shot at the European Championships, the national youth team coach was heartened by the combination of craft and graft on a night that could so easily have gone their way.
The Scots got off to the best possible start in the Obolon Arena, taking the lead inside the first minute.
Ayr United right-back Liam Smith – a stand-out on the night – picked out Kilmarnock striker Eamonn Brophy with an inch-perfect pass down the right.
Brophy, who was included in the absence of injured Everton target-man Fraser Hornby, lifted his head and cut the ball back perfectly into the path of onrushing Celtic winger Lewis Morgan.
The fit again former St Mirren prospect finished in style to stun the home support.
Hibs playmaker Stevie Mallan almost doubled the lead with a trademark free-kick 25 yards that drew a smart stop from keeper Andriy Lunin.
Mallan then turned provider for Easter Road team-mate Ryan Porteous, who watched in dismay as his powerful header from a corner was nodded off the line by Vitaliy Mykolenko.
It was a similar story on 27 minutes when another Porteous header was clawed away, this time by Lunin who showed great agility to tip the ball over the bar.
It proved costly as the hosts levelled with their first real attack after 32 minutes, with Oleksandr Zubkov’s speculative effort deflecting in off Porteous.
Ukraine upped the ante and edged in front on 56 minutes when a Zubkov shot just evaded the grasp of Scotland keeper Robby McCrorie.
McCrorie rallied to produce a fine one-on-one stop from Maxym Tretyakov just minutes later.
With Scotland desperately pushing for an equaliser they conceded a third in stoppage time through Viktor Kovalenko.
Backed by eight diehard Scotland supporters who made the trip to Ukraine straight from the senior squad’s UEFA Nations League tie with Israel, Gemmill’s squad will be back in action on Tuesday night at Tynecastle Park against England.
Scotland: Robby McCrorie, Liam Smith, David Bates, Ryan Porteous, Greg Taylor, Chris Cadden, Ross McCrorie, Stevie Mallan, Allan Campbell (Billy Gilmour, 90), Lewis Morgan, Eamonn Brophy (Glenn Middleton, 69).
Unused substitutes: Ross Doohan, Tom McIntyre, Oli Shaw, Elliot Watt, Ryan Williamson.