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Yarmolenko keeps Ukraine in contention

Fri Oct 12

Andriy Yarmolenko's second-half goal earned Ukraine a narrow success against Poland that kept alive their hopes of finishing top of FIFA World Cup qualifying Group H.

The FC Dynamo Kiev winger settled a tight contest at the Metalist Arena in the home side's favour with a composed finish four minutes past the hour. The result means Mykhailo Fomenko's team will finish at least second in the section should they win in San Marino in their final qualifier on Tuesday – and if England drop points at home to Poland they would come first with a victory.

Ukraine started nervously, allowing Poland – who needed a win to maintain their own qualifying aspirations, but can now reach no higher than third – to take the initiative. Robert Lewandowski's header was cleared off the line by Yevhen Konoplianka before Andriy Piatov produced a good save to keep out Waldemar Sobota's fierce shot from the angle.

It was the hosts who made the breakthrough in the 64th minute, however, Konoplianka delivering a perfect cross into the Polish penalty area. Yarmolenko still had work to do, but with time and space he curled his strike into the top corner.

Ukraine were made to work for the points, however, and might have been pegged back ten minutes from time had Lewandowski's aim been more accurate. Instead the forward headed over from close range, ensuring Fomenko's men held on for a vital victory.

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