The Republic of Ireland’s miserable start to the Nations League continued as a much-changed Ukraine recovered from missing out on World Cup qualification to claim a narrow win in Dublin.
It was another admirable performance from Ukraine amid the turmoil in their country following the Russian invasion, and one that delighted their vocal supporters on Lansdowne Road.
For the Republic, however, it is further disappointment following the defeat in Armenia and a result that extends their winless sequence in this competition to 12 games.
Boss Stephen Kenny has been in charge for eight of those, and while he insisted his players had moved on quickly from the loss in Yerevan, it was another ponderous Irish display that lacked a cutting edge in the final third.
Shane Duffy came closest to scoring for the hosts when his 79th-minute header was tipped on to the crossbar by Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Lunin as the Republic made it 10 competitive matches without a home win, a run stretching back to June 2019.
Ukraine given warm Dublin reception
Like in Scotland and Wales, Ukraine were given a warm reception in Dublin with applause ringing out prior to kick-off as the Irish fans showed solidarity with the war-torn nation.
Indeed, there was a poignant moment when injured Republic captain Seamus Coleman and the mascots presented the Ukraine supporters with sunflowers – their country’s national flower – in a display of peace.
With Ukraine having dedicated immense emotion and effort to their World Cup bid, boss Oleksandr Petrakov unsurprisingly rung the changes with Everton full-back Vitaliy Mykolenko the only player retained from the defeat in Cardiff.
And with Ukraine missing the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko and the Republic clearly low on confidence following Saturday’s miserable result in Yerevan, it was a low-key first half.
While Jason Knight produced a decent save from Andriy Lunin with a well-hit 25-yard shot, the Republic’s best first-half moment arrived when Callum Robinson scampered through the Ukraine defence and was felled by Valeriy Bondar only for referee Filip Glova to wave the Irish penalty appeals away.
With no real urgency from either side, the game was crying out for a goal – and it nearly got a brilliant one, but Taras Kacharaba’s celebrations were cut short when his stunning volley was ruled out following a VAR check with Artem Dovbyk deemed offside in the build-up.
There was nothing wrong with Tsignankov’s goal, however, as the winger struck the winner within three minutes of being introduced at half-time when his curling free-kick eluded everyone in the box, including a scrambling Caoimhin Kelleher in the Republic goal.
From there, the Republic huffed and puffed but Duffy’s header was the best chance they could muster, although Knight blasted a shot over the bar in injury time after an acrobatic Duffy effort was blocked.
At full-time, the Ukraine players saluted their 3,500 supporters but it was an all-too-familiar sense of deflation for the Irish, who must regroup in time for Scotland’s visit to Dublin on Saturday while Ukraine face Armenia in Poland.
R. of Ireland
- 5EganSubstituted forO’Sheaat 62′minutes
- 2ChristieSubstituted forBrowneat 69′minutes
- 6CullenBooked at 54mins
- 3StevensSubstituted forMcCleanat 69′minutes
- 7RobinsonSubstituted forObafemiat 69′minutes
- 20OgbeneSubstituted forHamiltonat 78′minutes
- 19KacharabaSubstituted forKaravaevat 72′minutes
- 5SydorchukSubstituted forIgnatenkoat 88′minutes
- 16MykolenkoBooked at 78mins
- 20ZubkovSubstituted forTsygankovat 45′minutes
- 14MudrykSubstituted forPikhalyonokat 72′minutes
- 11DovbykSubstituted forSikanat 80′minutes
Match ends, Republic of Ireland 0, Ukraine 1.
Second Half ends, Republic of Ireland 0, Ukraine 1.
Corner, Ukraine. Conceded by Nathan Collins.
Attempt blocked. Viktor Tsygankov (Ukraine) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Mykola Shaparenko.
Attempt missed. Jason Knight (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.
Attempt blocked. Shane Duffy (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Foul by Mykola Shaparenko (Ukraine).
Nathan Collins (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Danylo Ignatenko (Ukraine) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jason Knight (Republic of Ireland).
Substitution, Ukraine. Danylo Ignatenko replaces Serhii Sydorchuk.
Offside, Republic of Ireland. James McClean tries a through ball, but Shane Duffy is caught offside.
Foul by Denys Popov (Ukraine).
Jason Knight (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Valerii Bondar.
Attempt missed. Josh Cullen (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Nathan Collins.
Foul by Valerii Bondar (Ukraine).
Michael Obafemi (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Oleksandr Pikhalyonok (Ukraine) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Viktor Tsygankov.
Foul by Oleksandr Syrota (Ukraine).