23 June, 2006

Reserved Play
Ukraine 1 Tunisia 0
Saudi Arabia 0 Spain 1

Spain are through but the second qualification place in Group H is up for grabs. The crucial game looks to be the one in Berlin between Ukraine and Tunisia, which will decide it unless the Saudis can beat Spain heavily.

Ukraine have the best of it. The Tunisians look panicked as Ukraine come at them with pacy attacks, but they keep the ball out and get a few opportunities of their own, particularly from set pieces near the Ukraine goal. They make nothing of these, however, and too often allow the Ukrainians to attack on the break.

As the game continues the Ukrainian dominance fades and the game gets scrappy. At the very end of the first half Ukraine have another short spell of pressure, but the most decisive incident is the last in the half, when Ziad Jaziri is sent off for a second yellow card. In Kaiserslautern Spain are a goal up against Saudi Arabia, despite resting the entire first team, and Ukraine, needing only a draw, have a strong advantage.

In a dull second half Ukraine struggle to press home this advantage until on 69 minutes Andrei Shevchenko makes a strong run into the box and goes down under pressure from a defender and the goalkeeper. The referee awards a penalty which Shevchenko puts away coolly.

The Tunisians try to respond and the game kicks back into life. At the end of the game both sides are getting chances. Tunisia's best chance is in injury time when the ball travels just wide after a deep free kick.

Meanwhile Spain's reserves have beaten Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine will be joining them in the second round.

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