SPORTS

Ukraine prevails over Denmark, stays on top

KIEV (Reuters) – Unbeaten Ukraine saw off Denmark 1-0 in their World Cup qualifier yesterday to stay comfortably on top of Group 2. Bayer Leverkusen striker Andriy Voronin settled a tense encounter at Kiev’s Olympic stadium in the 67th minute when he fired home a rebound after Oleg Gusev’s shot hit the post. Until then Denmark had created more scoring chances and the visitors were unlucky to come away empty-handed. The home team, though, held on for the win and stay atop the group with 17 points from seven matches. They lead Turkey, who crushed Georgia 5-2, by five points. Denmark remain on nine points from seven games. Playing without injured captain and leading striker Andriy Shevchenko, the home side were fortunate not to go two goals down after just 12 minutes. First, Martin Jorgensen was narrowly off-target with a low shot from 25 meters in the eighth minute. Then Ukraine full back Andriy Rusol cleared an angled shot by Jon Dahl Tomasson off the line after the AC Milan striker beat three defenders in the box. The Ukrainians pressed forward after the interval and Gusev could have made it 2-0 just four minutes after Voronin’s goal, but the Dynamo Kiev winger could not beat Thomas Sorensen after going one-on-one with the Denmark keeper. Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin was delighted with the outcome. «It was the hardest game I’ve seen in a long time,» said the former Soviet international. «Denmark dominated in the first half, but the second half was more even.» «People would say we’re lucky to come away with three points. Yes, but without luck there is no football,» he added. Denmark coach Morten Olsen was left to rue his team’s missed chances. «My team did well. I can’t demand more (but) we did not score on our chances,» Olsen told Danish television. «They (Ukraine) were lucky. But it’s still possible for us to finish second in the group. We’ll go for that,» he said. Denmark captain Thomas Helveg added: «We gave everything we had.» Asked if Denmark’s dreams of qualifying for the finals had now been shattered, he said: «Absolutely not. After today’s match it will be very hard to win the group but we have a very good chance to take second place and we will play for that.» Shevchenko, still recovering after fracturing a cheekbone and eye socket last month, watched the game from the VIP box along with Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko. In the group’s other match, Turkey prevailed in Tbilisi 3-2 over hosts Georgia.