With a 3-1 win over Scotland on Wednesday in a tense playoff semifinal, Ukraine moved past the first hurdle in its emotional quest to qualify for the World Cup while a war is still going on.
Now, all the team has to do is win one more game to get to Qatar.
Andriy Yarmolenko, the captain of Ukraine’s team, scored a skillful lobbed goal in the 33rd minute. He then set up Roman Yaremchuk’s header in the 49th minute to make it 2-0.
Ukraine dominated most of the game and deserved to win, but they had to hold off a Scotland comeback. Callum McGregor scored for Scotland after a risky attack in the 79th minute, and then Ukraine’s sub Artem Dovbyk scored with the last kick of the game.
Dovbyk led his teammates to a corner of the stadium to celebrate with 3,000 Ukrainian fans in the crowd of 51,000. They clapped and cheered for each other with their hands high above their heads.
Oleksandr Petrakov, the coach of Ukraine, said that the win was for “the armed forces in the trenches and in the hospitals, who give their last drop of blood, and the people of Ukraine who suffer every day.”
Now, Ukraine will play Wales on Sunday, and a spot at the World Cup is on the line.
The winner in Cardiff will play in a group with England, the US, and Iran in Qatar in November.