Northern Ireland Under-21s were unfortunate to lose out by a goal to nil against a physically strong Ukraine U21 side in their second match in the U21 Euro 2025 qualifying series. The only goal of the game, which was played in Slovakia due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, came in the 70th minute.
UEFA U21 Euro 2025 Qualifier
Ukraine U21s 1 Northern Ireland U21s 0
Ukraine: Vitalii Roman (70’)
Slovakia’s National Training Centre in Poprad
12 September 2023
Northern Ireland U21s manager Tommy Wright made four changes from the team that started the 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg in Northern Ireland’s opening U21 Euro 2025 qualifier in Lurgan last week. Tommy Fogarty, Sean Stewart, Jamie McDonnell and Ciaran McGuckin came in for Darren Robinson, Charlie McCann, Chris McKee and Micheal Glynn.
How it happened
It was a pretty even first half. Ukraine created more chances, however Northern Ireland keeper Stephen McMullan was not seriously tested.
Ukrainian defender Arsenii Batahov shot wide before McMullan saved from winger Maksym Braharu on 20 minutes.
Northern Ireland striker Callum Marshall looked lively in the opening 45 minutes. Midway through the half he had an effort cleared off the line, while just before the break he had a sweet strike from outside the area saved by Ukraine keeper Ruslan Neshcheret.
Ukraine defender Vitalii Roman also tested McMullan, while the Northern Ireland keeper kept out a speculative effort from defender Artem Smoliakov, too.
Northern Ireland more than held their own in the opening period against the second seeds in Qualifying Group F.
Half-time: Ukraine U21s 0 Northern Ireland U21s 0
At the start of the second half McGuckin forced a save out of Neshcheret, while McMullan pushed away a Roman drive.
However, the Northern Ireland keeper could not prevent Roman scoring what turned out to be the only goal of the contest on 70 minutes. After a flowing move substitute Illia Kvasnytsia laid the ball back to Roman inside the area and he guided it into the corner of the net.
Midfielder Valentyn Rubchynskyi clipped an effort wide as the Ukrainians went in search of a second goal - and McMullan stopped a drive from Ukraine captain Volodymyr Brazhko.
Tommy Fogarty got on the end of a Carl Johnston corner but headed over the top as Northern Ireland pushed for an equaliser.
Towards the end of the game Northern Ireland forced a few corners, however they could not engineer the goal which their performance arguably merited.
Full-time: Ukraine U21s 1 Northern Ireland U21s 0
Ukraine U21s: Ruslan Neshcheret, Vitalii Roman, Artem Smoliakov, Volodymyr Saliuk, Arsenii Batahov, Yehor Yarmoliuk, Volodymyr Brazhko (captain), Valentyn Rubchynskyi, Bohdan Viunnyk, Maksim Braharu, Nazar Voloshyn.
Substitutes: Kiril Fesiun (GK), Andrii Buleza, Bohdan Sliubyk, Ivan Losenko, Kyrylo Siheiev, Illia Kvasnytsia, Yevgen Pavlyuk, Danil Skorko, Ihor Krasnopir.
Northern Ireland U21s: Stephen McMullan, Tommy Fogarty, Sean Stewart, Sam McClelland, Michael Forbes, Carl Johnston (captain), Jamie McDonnell, JJ McKiernan, Callum Marshall, Patrick Kelly, Ciaran McGuckin.
Substitutes: Josh Clarke (GK), Charlie McCann, Terry Devlin (for Patrick Kelly 75’), Jack Scott, Micheal Glynn (for JJ McKiernan 75’), Chris McKee (for Callum Marshall 68’), Ross McCausland (for Tommy Fogarty 84’), Craig Farquhar, Charlie Allen (for Ciaran McGuckin 84’).