LARNACA, Cyprus (Reuters) - Casting aside trouble at home, Ukraine comfortably beat the United States 2-0 on Wednesday in a friendly held in Cyprus against the backdrop of turmoil at home and tensions with Russia.
The game, scheduled to played in Kharkiv, was moved to the Mediterranean island due to the unstable political situation in Ukraine with about 1,300 people, many of them Ukrainians, in attendance.
“It’s a great opportunity to watch the national team although the circumstances which led the game to be changed are very unfortunate and sad,” said Dima Kulikov, 22, a resident of Cyprus.
Tanya Shevchuk, 25, who also came to cheer on her national side, said she was very concerned at the situation unfolding in Ukraine.
“It’s very worrying but we are glad we can come and help the national team,” she said.
On the pitch, Andriy Yarmolenko opened the scoring after 12 minutes when Yevhen Konoplyanka drifted a beautiful ball over the defense for Denys Harmash to beat the offside trap.
U.S. keeper Tim Howard saved the one-on-one but the rebound came back to Harmash who calmly squared it to Yarmolenko who had the simple task of slotting it into the open goal.
Ukraine remained on the front foot and had a goal correctly disallowed seven minutes later when centre-back Oleksandr Kucher squared the ball to Yarmolenko who put it into the net.
Ukraine’s pressing was effective and the U.S. struggled to get near Andriy Pyatov’s goal with Clint Dempsey’s blocked shot being the closest Juergen Klinsmann’s men came in the first 20 minutes.
Second-half substitute Marko Devic made a quick impact, doubling Ukraine’s lead at the second attempt after Howard had saved the Rubin Kazan forward’s first effort.
United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann said the match had proved a difficult one for his players due to several being drafted in at the last minute but they had not been affected by events in Ukraine.
“Sure we feel for the nation and we wish them well,” he said. “Our players have been watching the TV and are aware what is going on.”
Reporting by Peter Stevenson, Editing by Ed Osmond/Greg Stutchbury