World Cup Qualifier
Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine (Att. 34,000)
Ukraine 9-0 San Marino
A full house in Lviv came expecting to see blood, and that’s exactly what they got. In fact it was Ukraine’s biggest ever international win in their 20 or so years of history. It’s no coincidence that this was also their first match against San Marino.
For Ukraine this served as useful target practice ahead of next week’s rather bigger match with England, but for San Marino it was never going to be anything other than a futile attempt at stemming the tide.
Federico Valentini was picked in goal in place of Aldo Simoncini and did his best, but of course his best was never going to be good enough. His goal was breached for the first time after 10 minutes, when Marko Devic was given acres to turn and snap a half-volley from the edge of the box. The ninth and final goal came in stoppage time.
It was so bad that one newspaper report – in the Telegraph – described the carnage thusly:
“It could have been a dozen. Yet so what? Only as an exercise in chest-beating and confidence-building before the real test awaiting on Tuesday against England in Kiev was it worth a bean. San Marino are so bad that, once again, you were forced to ask ‘what exactly is the point of this torture?’”
Play this badly and people will keep coming out with that perennial put-down. There needs to be some signs of improvement somewhere, a glint of hope for a possible future of, if not competitiveness, then at least prevention of embarrassment. At the moment, the future looks bleak and San Marino look set to remain as the worst in the world for some time.
I’ll not trouble you by going through every goal, but they can be witnessed in all their glory here…
So it’s on to Tuesday and Poland at home for the poor Sammarinese. Quite what they took from this game I don’t know. Five bookings is their most notable stat. The only way is up from here.