Soccer-Shevchenko hails Ukraine response after unlikely win over Spain

KYIV, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko praised his side for brushing aside last week’s embarrassing 7-1 thrashing to France to pull off a shock 1-0 win over Spain in the UEFA Nations League on Tuesday.

Viktor Tsygankov struck the only goal late in the game to give Ukraine their first ever victory in seven matches against Spain and end a three-game losing streak in which they had been beaten 4-0 by Spain, 7-1 by France and 2-1 by Germany.

“I don’t even need to say anything because my players have said everything with their attitude and commitment,” Shevchenko told reporters.

“It’s their victory, they were simply great. The guys have learned their lesson after the France game, they accepted the changes we suggested and fulfilled our plan.

“It was hard to compete with Spain but we fought all the time and we won lots of balls. We wanted to win and we won.”

His country’s all-time top scorer and arguably their greatest ever player, Shevchenko oversaw a sensational campaign to qualify for the postponed European Championships but saw his team heavily depleted for this month’s international fixtures due to a spate of positive coronavirus cases plus injuries.

His side were overwhelmed by world champions France last week but were much improved in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Germany, before toppling Spain in front of 21,000 noisy supporters in Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, which was at 30% capacity thanks to UEFA’s easing of coronavirus restrictions in certain regions.

“We had lost three games in a row and we owed an apology to our fans,” added goalscorer Tsygankov.

“We had missed them in the stadium so much and we are happy to have given them a reason to celebrate tonight.” (Reporting by Richard Martin Editing by Toby Davis)