UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifier
SCOTLAND 2-2 Ukraine
Friday, 13 November 2015, kick-off 5.45pm
St Mirren Park, Paisley
Cummings 31, Paterson 37; Khlyobas 27, Syatok 83
Scotland were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against Ukraine amongst stormy conditions at St Mirren Park.
First-half strikes from Jason Cummings and Callum Paterson cancelled out Dmytro Khlyobas’ early opener before Syatok broke Scotland’s resolve with a goal seven minutes from time.
Cummings came close to winning the game twice in injury time but Scotland were unable to find a third.
Ricky made four changes to the side that drew with group leaders Iceland at Pittodrie last month. In came Andrew Robertson - making his first start for the U21s in two years – with Donald Love, Barrie McKay and Liam Henderson given the nod in midfield. Hibernian striker Jason Cummings, who had scored in his last seven games, would lead the line.
Ukraine are without a win in Group 3 but quickly showed their ability. Vladlen Yurchenko was first to go close, side footing the ball just wide of the post on six minutes before Zhurakhovskyi was denied by a brave blocking save from Jack Hamilton.
A few minutes later Robertson’s powerful drive up the left wing almost led to a goal when he played an excellent through ball to Billy King. The big Hearts forward twisted brilliantly before steadying himself and curling a shot that was inches away from providing the first goal of the night.
On 15 minutes Scotland went agonisingly close to opening their account with two quick-fire chances. Cummings was first to threaten, firing at goal from a few yards out after Henderson’s lay-off. Ukraine keeper Bohdan Sarnavskiy saved that one and made an even better point-blank save seconds later when Henderson volleyed at goal from King’s cross. The shot looked a certain goal were it not for Sarnavskiy’s excellent reaction skills.
Scotland went close again just seven minutes later when some good build up play led to a pass out right to the overlapping Paterson. The right back fired a teasing ball across goal that just evaded King’s stretching right foot.
On 27 minutes Ukraine took the lead. After finding some space down the right, striker Dmytro Khlyobas ran at goal before jinking to his left and firing past Hamilton from just inside the box.
The visitor’s lead wasn’t to last long. A free-kick from 40 yards out was quickly pinged into the box by captain McGinn and it was his Hibernian teammate Cummings who was quickest to it, stooping low to dink a header past Sarnavskiy. It was the striker’s eight goal in eight games and his first goal for the under-21s.
Ukraine threatened again on 33 minutes when Zhurakhovskyi lashed a ball across goal but it was Scotland who would take a crucial lead into half-time, with a goal made in Edinburgh.
Bouyed by his opener, Cummings skipped down the left wing and made space for himself inside the box. He crossed low into the onrushing Paterson who blasted high into the net, leaving Sarnavskiy with no chance. It was brilliantly worked goal from players on opposite sides of the Edinburgh derby divide and it came at a crucial moment in the game.
Scotland made two changes at half-time with Callum McFadzean and Craig Slater coming on for Love and goalscorer Paterson, both on yellow cards.
The home side started the second half with the same attacking intent and were managing to move the ball around with comfort. Ukraine remained a threat however, Khlyobas going close with powerful drive on 56 minutes.
Just after the hour mark Scotland were offered a fantastic chance to stretch their lead. Once more Cummings was causing problems down the right channel and he played a beautiful defence-splitting pass into King. With the ball caught under his feet he opted to play across to Henderson who blasted at goal and missed by a matter of inches.
A fantastic jinking run from King on 75 minutes almost lead to Scotland’s third when he cut in from the right and went past three players. But with the home fans on their feet he was quickly crowded out by the Ukrainian defence.
As the rain battered down in Paisley, disaster struck for Scotland. On 83 minutes a cross was swung into the Scotland box and eventually fell to Svatok who pounced to prod past Hamilton and draw Ukraine level.
Spurred on Scotland quickly drove forward in search of the winner. Another surging run by Robertson down the left saw the Hull City left-back cut the ball across goals to Cummings who watched in disbelief as his shot cannoned away off the underside of the crossbar.
Minutes later Cummings came close again. This time it was from a header that looked to be looping in before it was cleared off the line.
With seconds remaining Dominic Hyam was sent-off for pulling back Bezborodko, who was through on goals. Next up for Scotland is a double-header against France and Northern Ireland in March next year.
Scotland | Hamilton, Paterson (McFadzean 45) Robertson, McGhee, McGinn (capt), McKay (McBurnie 74), Cummings, Henderson, King, Hyam, Love (Slater 45) Subs not used: Ryan Fulton GK, Souttar, Shankland
Ukraine | Sarnavskiy, Svatok, Duts, Sobol, Myshnov, Blyznychenko, Danchenko, Yurchenko (capt), Kovalenko, Zhurakhovskyi, Khlyobas, Zinchenko