Christoph Baumgartner’s goal earned Austria second place in Group C and a first EURO knockout tilt but Ukraine’s hopes hinge on being among the best third-placed teams.
Franco Foda’s side pipped Ukraine to the Group C runners-up spot and set up a last-16 tie against Italy, with Austria progressing at their third attempt having bowed out in the group stage in 2008 and 2016. By contrast, Ukraine must wait to learn if they will advance to the EURO 2020 knockout phase as one of the best third-placed teams.
Match in brief
With Austria needing to win to qualify ahead of Ukraine, Xaver Schlager’s motoring run kicked off a lively last-day tussle for second place. Committing numbers forward, the Austrians’ intent was clear as a Marcel Sabitzer volley sailed over, before Aleksandar Dragović’s header fell wide.
Soon enough, Christoph Baumgartner broke the deadlock on 21 minutes, beating his marker to latch onto David Alaba’s searching corner and prod in with an outstretched leg – at 21, the Hoffenheim midfielder is the youngest goalscorer at the tournament so far.
Ukraine were quick to respond. They slipped through Das Nationalteam’s deep block when Ruslan Malinovskyi picked out Mykola Shaparenko, but goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann was on call to parry.
As the half-time whistle loomed, Marko Arnautović was presented with a golden opportunity to double the lead, only the Austrian striker jabbed wide from Alessandro Schöpf’s measured pass.
In a generally subdued second half, Roman Yaremchuk rifled across goal late on as Ukraine made one final push for the required point; however, Austria had done enough to prevail in Bucharest and secure their passage to the round of 16.
Star of the Match: Florian Grillitsch (Austria)
“He was very good when coming up against the opposition’s central defenders. He gave balance to the team and was very good with the ball. A good effort for the entire match.”
Cosmin Contra, UEFA Technical Observer
Bogdan Buga, Ukraine reporter
This defeat still leaves Ukraine with a chance to qualify for a EURO knockout stage for the first time, but their fate is no longer in their hands. To be honest, everything went wrong for the Blue and Yellows tonight as they committed inexcusable errors at both ends of the pitch. Now they must wait a few nerve-wracking days to find out their fate.
Jordan Maciel, Austria reporter
For the first time in their history, Austria are into the knockout stage at a EURO. And they did so without relying on anyone else, claiming six points from a possible nine in Group C. A marked improvement from Foda’s side which will give them much-needed confidence and momentum ahead of a tricky encounter with neighbours Italy at Wembley on Saturday.
Franco Foda, Austria coach: “It’s just so cool. I think the boys performed fantastically today. We were determined to reach the round of 16; we wanted to write history. You could see the boys took that on board and showed from the first minute that we wanted to win the game. I’m very proud of my team.”
Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine coach: “It was an extremely hard game, especially physically. We lost individual duels and committed errors. I saw a team that lacked energy. We gave everything in the second half but sometimes you have these games where whatever you do, nothing goes well. Sooner or later it leads to mistakes. We lost a simple ball in midfield, then conceded that corner and the goal. After that, we largely didn’t have a chance to get back into game.”
Christoph Baumgartner, Austria midfielder: “I can’t quite comprehend it all, my head is really hurting! This is really special for all of us. Austria, enjoy it!”
David Alaba, Austria captain: “This feels great. We are really happy that we got [the job] done today. That was our main goal and we are delighted to have achieved that. We’ve all seen how Italy played in the group stage, but we are here to dream and I believe anything is possible in football.”
Mykola Matviyenko, Ukraine defender: “We did everything we could. The only thing we can do now is wait for the results of the other games, but we still hope to finish in third place and qualify for the knockout stage.”
Daniel Bachmann, Austria goalkeeper: “That was incredible. We should have been 4-0 ahead at the break, but by not doing that, we made life difficult for ourselves. We defended well and deserve to be in the round of 16.”