21.06.2016 22:00 h

Poland ease into last-16 over hapless Ukraine

A second half strike by substitute Jakub Blaszczykowski booked Poland's ticket into the last-16 at Euro 2016 and sent Ukraine home without a point.

The Group C win in Marseille propelled Poland further than they have ever gone in a European Championship and they will meet Switzerland in the last-16.

"For the first time in Polish history we have qualified from the Euros group stage, the first time in three attempts," coach Adam Nawalka said.

The 30-year-old Blaszczykowski was put on the substitutes' bench, but his left-footed curler seven minutes after his second-half introduction decided the tie.

"Blaszczykowski has a great influence on the way we play, he showed that tonight once he came off the bench, he increased the quality of our play," said Nawalka.

"I count on him in the coming game, certainly he will start from the first minute," he added.

With two 1-0 wins against Northern Ireland and the Ukrainians either side of a scoreless draw against Germany, Poland finished in second place in Group C on goal difference.

After defeats to Germany and the Irish, Ukraine were already eliminated before the game in the Stade Velodrome. They have become the first team to go five matches without a goal in Euro history.

With pride at stake for Mykhailo Fomenko's men though and a chance of topping the Group C table beckoning for Poland, both teams attacked from the off.

Poland's formidable strike pair Arkadiusz Milik and Robert Lewandowski each had early chances, the Bayern Munich star volleying the more clearcut of the two over Andriy Yatov's crossbar.

Ukraine's Andriy Yarmolenko should have scored on the quarter hour but chipped wide when one-on-one against Lukasz Fabianski.

Lewandowski found more room than in the previous two games and had a drive deflected wide on 20 minutes, but from the half-hour Ukraine began to assert themselves.

With impressive teenager Olexandr Zinchenko, 19, orchestrating from midfield, Ukraine began to stretch Poland on occasion.

Winger Yevhen Konoplyanka drilled a low effort narrowly wide on the half hour. Soon after left-back Bohdan Butko crossed when a shot seemed a better option.

But with lone striker Roman Zozulya proving ineffective, Ukraine could not find their first goal since their opening game at the Euro 2012 tournament that they co-hosted with Poland.

Instead, it was Poland's sub Blaszczykowski, one of four switches by Nawalka, who broke the deadlock with a delightful strike.

Fed by Milik with a reverse pass on the right of the area in the 53rd minute, he worked the ball onto his left foot and curled a shot inside the far-post to send the Velodrome, decked out mainly in Poland's red and white, into raucous celebration.

A minute later, with the fans still jumping, Poland's own 19-year-old Bartosz Kapusztka nearly made it two but fired wide of both Pyatov and the post.

The Poles eased up after that, a Milik header well wide with 15 minutes to go the nearest they came to making it two.

In truth Mykhailo Fomenko's men rarely troubled Fabianski.

Although captain Ruslan Rotan, later awarded man-of-the-match, forced him to dive eight minutes from the end and Zozulya headed narrowly wide soon after, two second-half blasts over the bar from Konoplyanka and Zinchenko were more typical of Ukraine's miserable tournament.

"It was a difficult match today it was maybe even more difficult than against Germany," Fabianski said.

"We didn't have as much possession as we wished, but despite the fact that we didn't play particularly well we won," he added.

Ratan blamed Ukraine's mentality for his side's forlorn Euro 2016 experience.

"We have to work on the psychological level of the team not the sporting level," he said.

"We have very good young players so in the future we will see a stronger Ukraine," he added.

"I don't have any complaints about the players," Fomenko said.

"My only wish would be that the experience that they have acquired here will be used later, that if they work hard on the pitch they will also be able to use their chances in front of goal".