Oleksandr Zinchenko says Scotland win ‘won’t mean anything’ unless Ukraine beat Wales to achieve their World Cup dream after Man City star shone in emotionally-charged play-off victory at Hampden
Ukraine’s Oleksandr Zinchenko has said beating Scotland ‘will not mean anything’ unless they reach the World Cup finals on Sunday.
The Manchester City player was outstanding as Ukraine won 3-1 at Hampden Park on Wednesday night to set up a play-off decider against Wales in Cardiff.
On an emotionally-charged evening following Russia’s invasion of their country, Ukraine advanced courtesy of a goals by Andriy Yarmolenko, Roman Yaremchuk and Artem Dovbyk in a tie postponed from March because of the war.
Oleksandr Zinchenko celebrates Ukraine’s 3-1 World Cup play-off victory over Scotland
The Manchester City player excelled as Ukraine won on an emotionally-charged night
If Ukraine overcome Wales this weekend, they will play against England, the United States and Iran in Group B at the tournament in Qatar this winter.
And Zinchenko said on Sky Sports: ‘Everyone knows the situation right now in Ukraine and every single game for us is like a final.
‘We have a dream as a team to be at the World Cup and we have one more game — one more final — and we need to win it. Otherwise this game is not going to mean anything.
‘Scotland are a great team with unbelievable players and we knew it would be tough. But we did well.
‘We scored three goals and we could have scored even more, so let’s go in this last game. It’s going to be massive for us.
‘Everyone understands the situation. It’s a final and we need to show the best performance of our lives.’
The war-ravaged nation’s fairytale journey to Qatar continues and it’s Wales next on Sunday
Ukraine players clap their raucous support at full time with the team one game from Qatar
Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov dedicated the victory to his compatriots who ‘fight with every last drop of their blood’ in the ongoing conflict.
‘I have no emotions, all emotions are left out on the pitch. This victory is not for me, not for our players but for our country, so it was a huge victory for Ukraine,’ he said.
‘It was a team effort, a team victory, team work, they did everything for the people they play for.
‘They played for those watching back home, for the armed forces in the trenches, for those in hospitals. They say thanks to us and we return our gratitude to them.’
Petrakov said he appreciated the magnitude of the victory with 2,000 travelling fans watching on inside Hampden and millions more on television back home.
Ukraine boss Oleksandr Petrakov was proud of his players after Wednesday’s emotional win
‘We played for them, for those who fight with their last drop of blood, for those who suffer every day, we made baby steps towards our great aim,’ he said.
‘Now we have the Wales game to come and we will do everything people expect us to do.
The coach said he had been overwhelmed by the way he and his team had been welcomed by the Scottish public ahead of such a vital game for both teams.
‘In this difficult time, I want to extend our gratitude to the people of Scotland, this incredible hospitable place.
‘Walking on the street yesterday, people were coming up to us and wishing us all the best, it was incredible. Thank you Scotland, we will never forget that.’