KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Andriy Yarmolenko scored the only goal as Ukraine edged past Poland 1-0 in their World Cup qualifier on Friday and now look certain to finish in the top two in Group H.
The Ukrainians have 17 points ahead of their final match against bottom team San Marino, who are without a point, on Tuesday.
Montenegro, third on 15 points after losing 4-1 at leaders England (18) on Friday, host second from bottom Moldova in their last qualifier.
“We should be realistic, I am not expecting a super performance from Poland against England at Wembley on Tuesday,” said Ukraine coach Mykhaylo Fomenko.
“I am thinking of a playoff game right now.”
Winger Yarmolenko was unmarked in the middle of the area in the 64th minute at the Metalist Arena and collected a perfect cross from Evhen Konoplyanka before curling the ball into the top corner of the net.
The home team looked timid in the opening half while fourth-placed Poland, who needed a victory to keep their qualifying hopes alive, twice went close to scoring.
Konoplyanka cleared the ball off the goal-line following a header from striker Robert Lewandowski and Waldemar Sobota forced a good save from keeper Andriy Pyatov with a powerful angled shot.
Yarmolenko then put Ukraine in front before unmarked Borussia Dortmund forward Lewandowski missed an excellent chance to equalise 10 minutes from time when he headed the ball over the bar from close range.
“We will play against England with our strongest team. The game is very important as we would like to leave a positive impression with our performance in the last game,” said Poland coach Waldemar Fornalik.
Writing by Igor Nitsak; editing by Tony Jimenez