Ukraine outclassed Saudi Arabia in their crunch Group H game, firmly setting their stuttering World Cup campaign back on track with a convincing 4-0 win, according to an article by Luke Phillips, Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Redemption for the 4-0 mauling Ukraine suffered at the hands of Spain in their opening match came in a brace of goals either side of the interval from Andriy Rusol, Serhiy Rebrov, Andriy Shevchenko and the impressive Maksym Kalinichenko.
The World Cup debutants, boasting four changes from the Spanish debacle, showed their attacking intent against a toothless Saudi team from the start.
They took the lead in the fourth minute, Rusol`s knee connecting with an inswinging Kalinichenko corner to send the ball bouncing between Saudi goalkeeper Mabrouk Zaid`s legs and into the goal - the former Soviet
republic`s first at the World Cup.
Rebrov doubled the lead after 36 minutes, the former Tottenham and West Ham player blasting in a curling 35-yard shot that left Zaid rooted to the spot.
Shevchenko made it three straight after the interval, the European footballer of the year rising above his Asian counterpart Hamad al-Montashari to head a home another Kalinichenko free-kick.
Kalinichenko got a deserved goal with six minutes remaining, calmly burying a beautifully-weighted Shevchenko cross past a despairing Zaid.
"We really gave it our all today because it was our last chance. It was either win or go home, and none of us wanted to do that," said Ukraine striker Andriy Voronin.
"We can play better and we showed that here. We played in a more attacking way than against Spain when we were a bit too defensive."
With the Saudi back four under constant pressure, Kalinichenko and Oleg Rusov proved a real handful down the wings. The recalled Rebrov rifled in a cross that former Dynamo Kiev team-mate Shevchenko couldn`t latch on to after 10 minutes.
Shevchenko, the Ukraine captain who recently became Chelsea`s new record signing, could have doubled the lead after 14 minutes, defender Ahmed Dokhi glancing his header off the line into the path of Rebrov, whose follow-up shot was blasted over the crossbar.
Shevchenko had yet a second chance four minutes later, just failing to get on the end of a Kalinichenko through ball that split the edgy Saudi defence. The captain almost became provider on 20 minutes, his cross just too fast for the onrushing Andriy Voronin who had a clear sight on goal.
Saudi Arabia`s best chance of the first-half came in the 24th minute, a curling cross by Dokhi deflected by Rusol towards goal and tipped around the post by Oleksander Shovkovsky.
Any half-time pep talk from Saudi Arabia`s Brazilian coach Marcos Paqueta was quickly dispelled by Shevchenko`s goal a minute after the restart.
But the Saudi team, bolstered by the introduction of attacking left-back Abdulaziz Khathran, did manage to mount some attacks but the final touches were clumsy and left ineffectual captain Hussein Sulimani wildly
gesticulating at his team-mates.
Omar al-Ghamdi`s one penetrating run into the Ukrainian box ended disappointingly as well, the midfielder rightly shown a yellow card by English referee Graham Poll for diving.
It was Kalinichenko who proved to be the real thorn in the sides of the "sons of the desert". One blistering 20-yard shot in the 64th minute hit the crossbar, but his efforts were later rewarded with the fourth goal.
The result means that Saudi Arabia, whose squad play entirely for clubs in the desert kingdom, have not won a match since their first appearance in the 1994 World Cup when they reached the second round.
They have a point from their 2-2 with Tunisia from their first match. Later Monday, Spain can make sure of their place in the last 16 with a win over the north Africans.
The news was monitored by The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service, Morgan Williams, Editor.