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Ukraine 'deserved ticket'

"It was difficult, but I am convinced that we deserved our ticket for the EURO," insisted coach Mykhailo Fomenko after Ukraine made it to the finals with a tense play-off success.

Ukraine won a play-off for the first time, and avenged their defeat by Slovenia at this same stage of UEFA EURO 2000, to book their place in France after finishing third in qualifying Group C.

Having fallen to the Slovenes in their only previous EURO play-off  – and failed in four such FIFA World Cup ties – Mykhailo Fomenko's side exorcised the demons as Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Seleznyov secured a 2-0 first-leg triumph in Kyiv. Ukraine were given a rough ride in the Maribor return but after BoĊĦtjan Cesar offered Slovenia hope, Yarmolenko's added-time equaliser confirmed their progress to a second EURO finals.

Despite conceding just four times in ten Group C games, Ukraine had to settle for third place after being pipped to second by Slovakia, who struck an early blow with a 1-0 Kyiv success in the section opener. Things got back on track with victories against Belarus, FYR Macedonia and Luxembourg yet home and away losses to Spain – and an inability to exact revenge in a stalemate with the Slovaks – forced Ukraine to take the long route to France.

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