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China first to qualify after edging Ukraine 3-2
Updated: 2005-06-15 08:24

After a match which kept the crowd enthralled at the Galgenwaard Stadium in Utrecht, China squeezed past Ukraine 3-2 in their second match of Group B in the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 on 14 June. In doing so they became the first team to reach last 16.

China's Chen Toa (L) converts a penalty kick past Ukraine's goalkeeper Leonid Musin during the group B FIFA World Youth Championship match at the Galgenwaard Stadium in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 14, 2005. China won the match 3-2. [Reuters]

China coach Eckhard Krautzun was understandably pleased after the match. "I am so proud of the team as they played with good teamwork and fighting spirit and it in the end it was that spirit which carried us through this hard-fought match."

Krautzun had made two changes in his midfield with Zhao Xuri and Hao Junmin in for Zhou Haibin and Lu Lin respectively, while Ukraine fielded nearly the same team which beat Panama with only defender Grygoriy Yarmash replacing scorer Maksym Feshchuk.

With the two sides trying to strengthen their defence, the opening minutes were predictably quiet. The first shot came after four minutes, when Ukraine's Oleksandr Aliiev, the two-goal hero against Panama, was brought down in China's third but the No 8 could only pull his shot over the crossbar.

It was then that the East Europeans took the initiative. They started to pile on the pressure with incisive incursions down the flanks. Volodymyr Samborskyy brought the ball down well 20m out but couldn't keep his snapshot on target.

Ukraine could have taken the lead on eight minutes, when two Dynamo Kyiv teammates, Oleksandr Sytnyk and Artem Milevskyi, pulled off a nifty combination on the left side of China's area. Sytnyk drew the attention of China's defence before picking out the unmarked Milevskyi, but the No 10 could only shoot straight at keeper Yang Cheng from close range.

But the narrow miss sparked attacking waves from the Europeans and their efforts paid dividends after 19 minutes. Oleksandr Aliiev broke down the right before releasing Dmytro Vorobei, who fired a low drive past Yang Cheng inside the far post. (1:0, 19')

Just as the match seemed to be swinging in favour of Ukraine, China hit back. Hao Junmin beat two defenders to cut into the right side of Ukraine area and his inch-perfect cross found Zhu Ting unmarked only six yards out. The 19-year-old Dalian Shide forward gave the Ukraine keeper no chance. (1:1, 31')

Boosted by the equalizer, the Asians showed more spark and pressed their opponents. Chen Tao was brought down in front of the Ukraine area but he pulled the resulting free-kick over. Ukraine also looked dangerous on the break when Oleksandr Aliiev controlled a cross from left, but his effort flashed over just inside the box.

Ukraine's Artem Mylevskyi holds his head in his hands after another chance goes begging.

With the winners sure to book the first spot in the last 16, both sides were keen to grab a winning goal after the interval. Ukraine should have re-taken the lead 18 minutes into the second half when Dmytro Vorobei sent Artem Milevskyi clear in China's area but the big forward shot straight at Yang Cheng.

China then took the lead. Hao Junmin's tantalizing cross into the area struck Aliiev's hand for a penalty. Chen Tao stepped up to send keeper Leonid Musin the wrong way from the spot.(2:1, 66')

But only four minutes later, having conceded a penalty, the Kyiv midfielder then leveled the score with one of his own. Oleksandr Sytnyk's free kick 20 yards from the left flew past Yang Cheng but smacked against the far post. The number nine responded shrewdly by chasing in the rebound and was tripped by Zhu Ting who was red-carded. Aliiev coolly sent the spot kick past the China keeper to score his third goal in the tournament. (2:2, 70')

But China weren't finished and hit back with what proved to be the winner. Chen Tao's in-swinging corner from the left was headed in by a diving Cui Peng. (3:2, 75')

Ukraine coach Alexei Mikhailichenko had bemoaned his side's finishing after the first group game against Panama and this narrow defeat left him with the same feeling: "The main reason for our defeat was our poor finishing as we spurned a lot of chances." 

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