The Ukraine national team briefly returned to football last night in a 2-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach in a friendly.
It was the first time they had played since Russia invaded their country in February and the game also served as a useful warm-up game for next month’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland. Ukraine will also meet Stephen Kenny’s Republic of Ireland in Nations League home and away games in June.
Goals from Mykhaylo Mudryk and Oleksandr Pikhalyonok resulted in a narrow win in Germany on a night that saw the spirit of football shine through in the face of ongoing adversity in Ukraine.
Plans for the game at Borussia-Park were announced at the end of April and all winnings from the game will be donated to charity of the Ukrainian people.
For the first time since November’s 2-0 away win against Bosnia, Oleksandr Petrakov watched as his side opened the scoring in the ninth minute through Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Mudryk.
A crowd of 20,223 – including Ukrainian nationals who were able to come for free – watched as the hosts reacted immediately through Republic of Ireland youth international Conor Noss to ensure it was level at half-time.
Substitute Pikhalyonok had the last word and fittingly the 82nd-minute goal gave Ukraine a win in Germany.
A statement from Borussia Mönchengladbach said: “We are delighted that we were able to help Ukraine prepare for the World Cup playoffs and wish them all the best!”
Petrakov and his players will travel to Italy next week to face Serie A side Empoli on May 17 after it was announced on Tuesday that another friendly had been arranged.
Back in March, Empoli goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario let a mother and her eight-year-old son from Ukraine into his home after they left their country because of the war.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/ukraine-footballers-get-back-to-action-in-emotional-return-41641940.html Ukrainian footballers return emotionally