World Cup qualifying: Ukraine beat Poland 1-0 to edge closer to qualification
Last Updated: 11/10/13 10:55pm
Andriy Yarmolenko: Celebrates with his team-mates as Ukraine keep their World Cup dream alive
Ukraine took a decisive step towards qualifying for the World Cup as they secured a vital 1-0 Group H win over Poland in Kiev.
What had been a four-team battle for progression from Group H now appears to be a case of where England and Ukraine will finish.
With England beating Montenegro to stay top, Ukraine's success - given to them by Andriy Yarmolenko's second-half goal - means they have 18 points and are three clear of third-placed Montenegro.
Only a failure to win against San Marino and Montenegro heavily beating Moldova can now stop Ukraine getting a play-off spot and, should England fail to see off Poland on Tuesday, they could still qualify automatically.
That is out of their hands, though, and they at least did their bit on Friday, pricing Poland out of the game in the process.
They had to resist an early Polish storm, fired up by star man Robert Lewandowki's pre-match rallying cry.
Lewandowski had urged Poland to take the game by the scruff of its neck in the build-up, and heeded his own warning early on, going close with a sixth-minute header.
Ukraine responded by pressing on, with Yarmolenko nodding over and the same player then warming the palms of the in-form Artur Boruc.
Back came Poland with Kamil Glik seeing a header blocked, before Lewandowski gave Pyatov another sighter from 25 yards.
The Borussia Dortmund striker was closer with 37 minutes gone, curling just away from the goal from the edge of the box, but neither side was able to find the net before the interval.
Half-time was actually bad for the game, with the pace slowing down markedly after it, although Ukraine were left thankful of the change in speed as it allowed them to get a handle on things.
With more time to consider their options they fashioned the goal, with Yevhen Konoplyanka's cross perfect for Yarmolenko who cracked in with his left foot.
Poland were clearly frustrated given their World Cup hopes were passing them by, and when Lewandowski smashed over a free-kick and then header away from goal, it summed up how their night was going.
No further chances would come their way either, and they left the field knowing they would not be going to South America next summer.