LVOV–Ukraine (Reuters)–An Andriy Shevchenko free kick set Ukraine on the way to a 3-0 win over Armenia in their World Cup European group five qualifier on Wednesday–boosting their chances of a first appearance in next year’s finals.
The AC Milan forward curled a free kick from 25 meters–which cleared Armenia’s defensive wall before dipping below the bar just 12 minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.
Late substitute Andriy Vorobei–Ukraine’s top scorer last season–grabbed two more in the dying minutes to seal the win that took Ukraine a step closer to a play-off.
Ukraine now has 16 points from nine games and are in second place in their group–four points clear of Belarus–who take on Poland–which has already qualified as group winner–later on Wednesday.
Shevchenko’s goal followed his two in Ukraine’s win over Belarus last Saturday–and helped extend his team’s winning form after a sequence of four draws.
Vorobei flourished after coming on late in the game–burying a botched Armenian clearance on 88 minutes and rolling the ball past the on-rushing keeper and in off the post in the final momen’s.
The match was played in front of a packed house for the first World Cup qualifier in Ukraine’s western city Lviv–and saw the home side playing in black arm bands in memory of their international keeper Serhiy Perkhun–who died last week from a brain hemorrhage following an accidental clash of heads in a league game. He was 23.
Playing for Armenia were Roman Berezovsky–Yervand Sukiasyan–Karen Dokhoyan–Sarkis Hovsepyan–Arutyun Vardanyan–Romik Khachataryan–Artur Petrosyan–Arkady Dokhoyan (Ararat Arutyunyan )–Albert Sarkisyan–Armen Shahgeldyan (Aik Akopyan) and Andrei Movsesyan.