UKRAINE boss Oleksandr Petrakov dedicated their stunning World Cup play-off win over Scotland to the heroic soldiers defending his war-torn country.
Oleksandr Petrakov dedicated Ukraine’s win over Scotland to soldiers defending their homeland against RussiaCredit: Rex
Ukraine did their country proud with a 3-1 win in their World Cup qualifierCredit: Getty
And an emotional Petrakov declared: “This victory was not for me, nor the team, but for our country.
“We play for our people back home who suffer every day, for our armed forces who are in trenches and hospitals, who fight with their last drop of blood.
“All my emotions are on the pitch. I am exhausted and empty.”
His team produced a heroic Hampden performance in their first match since the horrific Russian invasion back in February to crush the Scots’ own World Cup dreams.
Manchester City star Oleks Zinchenko broke down in tears in the pre-match press conference, but was a rock as he led Ukraine to an historic victory.
Petrakov added: “He is an extremely emotional but he is a true Ukrainian. When we are being attacked like this it is like he is being attacked.
“Bear in mind what we are going through. Children, women being killed on a daily basis. Women getting raped by Russian barbarians.
“Zinchenko is a pure soul and that shows on the pitch.”
Ukraine fans were desperate for a feel-good momentCredit: AFP
Ukraine are just one game away from reaching the World CupCredit: Reuters
Nearly 3,500 Ukrainian fans were in the away end in Glasgow to cheer on their side. Sixty of them were orphaned children from the war, and many were refugee women and families.
The majority will follow the team to Cardiff, and Zinchenko said: “Every single game for us is like a final. We have dreamed to be at the World Cup.
“We have one more game, one more final and we have to win it or this game doesn’t mean anything.
Jubilant players couldn’t hold back their emotionsCredit: Getty
Man City star Oleks Zinchenko led the joyous celebrationsCredit: EPA
“It is going to be a massive game for us. We need to show our best performance of our lives.”
For Scotland, their 24-year wait to compete at a World Cup goes on, even after Callum McGregor’s 79th minute strike to briefly make it 2-1.
Captain Andy Robertson, fresh from Champions League heartache with Liverpool, admitted: “We didn’t really show up. It’s passed us by now and after a really positive campaign we have let ourselves down.
“That’s a World Cup gone for next four years and that hurts for us because we have dreams of trying to play in that big tournament.
Ukrainians in their country and around the world rejoiced at the final scoreCredit: Getty
Ukraine will be looking to give their country even more joy by beating Wales on SundayCredit: Getty
“We have to stick together. We know there will be scrutiny coming our way. All we can say is sorry to the fans.”
Boss Steve Clarke added: “The best team won, and that is disappointing for us. The first thing you have to do is suffer, but we will try to get back on the horse again.
“They are a good team. I don’t think it was about the emotion or the motivation. They were just better. That’s a fact.”