Bug wreaks havoc in Ukraine squad
INGOLSTADT, Germany ● Ukraine have suffered a worrying illness scare, just days before the Euro 2012 co-hosts play their opening match against Sweden, with 10 players suffering from stomach upset, coach Oleg Blokhin said after a 2-0 warm-up defeat by Turkey.
Influential midfielder Anatoly Tymoshchuk is being treated on a drip while striker Andriy Voronin is also ill.
“Tymoshchyk is still in bad condition, we have got him on a drip. And this is not funny. We have to wait for the doctors’ verdict but the situation is far from funny,” Blokhin said after the defeat in Ingolstadt, Germany.
“I do not know the reason for the illness because we all ate different food. We have one week to recover…it’s good that it did not happen on June 11.”
Ukraine, who suffered their second successive friendly loss after a 3-2 defeat against Austria last Friday, begin their Group D campaign against Sweden in Kiev on Monday.
Blokhin said defender Bohdan Butko and midfielder Denys Garmash were also afflicted but were well enough to start against Turkey.
“If Butko and Garmash refused to play I could have cancelled the game because of a lack of players,” he said.
Caner Erkin opened the scoring for the Turks midway through the first half with a sharp stretching finish after he had been found in the box by Mustafa Pektemek.
Roared on by the vast majority of the 10,000 crowd, Turkey scored the second with a quarter of an hour of the game remaining, thanks to a cool, lobbed finish from Pektemek after good work by substitute Tuncay Sanli.
After Erkin’s opener – his first goal in his 15th appearance for his country – Turkey could have had a second just after the half-hour mark when Pektemek failed to control Arda Turan’s lovely ball over the top, and Oleksandr Kucher was able to come across to cover.
Ukraine did show moments of promise from set-pieces, and the Euro 2012 co-hosts’ best chance of the half came a few minutes before the break.
Oleksandr Aliyev’s floated free-kick towards the penalty spot was flicked goalwards by Yaroslav Rakytskiy, but Turkey goalkeeper Fehmi Mert Gunok went full-length to claw the ball out.
Aliyev then forced another, far easier, save from Mert as Ukraine ended the half on the attack.
Blokhin made a succession of second-half substitutions, including the introduction of captain Andriy Shevchenko, but it was Turkey who made the second half running and netted the second goal of the game.
The scorer of the first goal, Pektemek, converted the second in fine style with a chipped finish over Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov after an excellent offside trap beating break down the right from substitute Tuncay.
Five minutes later it could have been three, but Hamit Altintop’s free-kick from the left hit the crossbar and Pyatov’s subsequent save came from a Turkish player in an offside position.
There were flashes of intent from Blokhin’s side in the final moments, and inevitably they came from their captain and talisman Shevchenko.
The former Milan star showed the liquid movement of old when he drifted off Egemen Korkmaz to get on the end of a floated ball into the box from Serhiy Nazarenko.
The movement was Milan-vintage Shevchenko but the finish was unfortunately more resonant of his Chelsea days, as the 35-year-old failed to get enough of a connection on his header and the ball squirted wide of Mert’s goal.
Shevchenko’s pace may have gone, with Blokhin now employing him in the false striker role rather than playing on the last defender.
Yet his football brain remains, and he showed great awareness to nick the ball on the edge of the box and, after bursting past Korkmaz, flicking an effort towards goal.
However, his chip hit the top of Mert’s crossbar and Ukraine’s final chance had gone. Their plane back to their homeland left Germany just an hour after the final whistle, and there will be much for coach Blokhin to ponder on the flight.