Premier League

Zinchenko’s masterclass against England stun Rice and Saka 

Oleksandr Zinchenko



Image credit: Getty Images

Arsenal players Oleksandr Zinchenko, Bukayo Saka, and Declan Rice found themselves on opposite sides as England locked horns with Ukraine in the European Championship 2024 qualifiers. 

               

Zinchenko played in a more advanced role for his nation – as opposed to his role as left-back for the Gunners and produced a Man of the Match Performance.

Known for his role as a left-back at Arsenal, Zinchenko showcased his versatility by adopting a more advanced position for his national team. The decision paid off handsomely, leading to a Man of the Match performance that left England’s Rice and Saka in awe.

Despite England’s early dominance in possession, they were caught off guard by the first shot on target. Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, now donning the Ukrainian colors, seized the opportunity after a swift break down the right-wing, finding the back of the net.

Saka, who had been active in the first half, saw one of his attempts blocked and another strike hit the post. These efforts marked England’s only noteworthy attempts on the Ukrainian goal until Ukraine capitalized on their lack of finishing.

The breakthrough moment for Ukraine came when Georgiy Sudakov threaded his way through the midfield, releasing right-back Yukhym Konoplya on a lung-busting run. Konoplya delivered an accurate cross to find Zinchenko, who calmly slotted home to ignite the jubilant home crowd in Wroclaw.

The 26-year-old celebrated by waving to the cameras with many Ukraine fans showing their emotions after his brilliant strike.

READ MORE: Arsenal star with an incredible performance while on International duty

England managed to level the score just before halftime when Kyle Walker, on his 77th international cap, netted his first international goal. The Manchester City defender capitalized on Harry Kane’s exquisite pass, which dissected the defense with precision.

Rice, on the other hand, was left pondering how Zinchenko had found so much space in the box, with former Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson leading the discussions after England conceded. However, Walker’s goal ensured that Gareth Southgate’s side didn’t fall behind for long, but Zinchenko continued to shine in his advanced role for Ukraine.

The backdrop to this clash was Ukraine’s situation, with the match played in the Polish city of Wroclaw as the ongoing Russian invasion continued to impact their homeland. 

Ukraine manager, Sergey Rebrov, praised the resilience and spirit displayed by his players, resulting in joyous scenes at full-time as they secured a valuable point.

Rebrov shared his thoughts, saying, “It’s a pleasure for the players, a very good celebration for them. It’s not only about the result, it’s about the game. 

“Ukraine is a very strong side, and I think we deserved this point. If you see the faces of the players, they are very tired. It’s very tough and hard to play against England. The character, we showed it. That’s very important. I’ve only been working for several months, and the players have the wish to improve.”

The former striker, who had his own stint in the Premier League with Tottenham and West Ham, also offered some advice to England on enhancing their attacking play in the final third. “England was very strong in the first half, good at controlling the ball. But in football, controlling the ball is not enough,” he emphasized. “I said at halftime, how many chances did they create? They didn’t because we defended very well.”

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