Ukraine coach dedicates win over Scotland to those fighting Russia

Mueez Ajao

– Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov said Wednesday’s World Cup qualification playoff win over Scotland had been a victory for his compatriots who “fight with every last drop of their blood”.

– The 3-1 triumph at Hampden Park leaves Ukraine knowing that a win against Wales on Sunday in Cardiff will earn them a place in the World Cup finals for just the second time as an independent nation.

– Petrakov said he had been left exhausted by the 90 minutes — the first competitive game his side have played since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

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– “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 told reporters.

– “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,” he added.

– The 64-year-old, who has spent most of his coaching career in charge of the country’s youth teams, said he felt unable to offer any assessment of the performance.

– “I don’t want to analyse the game at this moment in time, I’m exhausted. I am empty in terms of analysis,” he said.

– But he was in no doubt about the significance of a victory achieved in front of over 2,000 travelling fans from the Ukrainian diaspora and watched back home by millions on television.

– “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.

– “Now we have the Wales game to come and we will do everything people expect us to do,” he said.

– 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,” he said.

– On the eve of the game midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko had broken down in tears when discussing the situation in the country but he delivered an outstanding performance against the Scots.

– Petrakov said he was not surprised by either the emotion or the response on the field.

– “Zinchenko is an extremely patriotic person, emotional and a true Ukrainian. When Ukraine is being attacked, he feels as though he personally is attacked,” he said.

– “He is a pure lad, he has a pure soul and that shows on and off the pitch.”