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Championship of Ukraine

The Sleepy vs the Cheerful

Morning games are not for Phoenix. That is why the quarterfinal match of the Ukrainian Championship evoked anxiety in the violets even before the team found out who its opponent was at that stage of the tournament. The boys seem to be going through the tournament easily, but those who are well acquainted with the team's play can see that Phoenix is still in search of their optimal shape.

True, the group stage was sparing, left room for mistakes and experiments and all of the teams got through to the playoffs, but from today on any mistake is fatal. The coaches discussed that with the boys before the match, drawing parallels and giving examples from the team's own history.

The game did not start according to our scenario all the same. Quick goals in Phoenix matches have become a tradition in this tournament. In all the previous games, the team scored its first goal in minute 1 - 3 of the first half. The match in question was no exception, but with one significant difference. This time the very first attack of the competition was effective. Having run headstrong into the attack, Phoenix players lost the ball and Yunost got a four-on-two rush, which Danylo Vikhlyaev, the captain, finished off with an accurate shot.

Phoenix took the missed ball as nothing more than an annoying oversight and by the notorious third minute of the match had been in the lead. First, Mykhailo Soldatenko’s tight angle shot slotted between the goalkeeper's legs. Despite Popovich’s desperate jump in an attempt to try and get the ball off the goal line, the referee counted the goal. A minute later Bodnar turned home Yevsyukov's cross from the right flank to put Phoenix up 2:1.

Yunist went ahead with Oleksii Popovych acting as the fifth outfield player. For a while, the Chernihiv team seized the initiative and pressed the rivals to their goal. Having withstood the onslaught of the opposition, Phoenix carried out one more effective attack, which replicated the previous one, only Konkov's assist from the right flank was turned home by Danylo Khodatskyi's accurate shot. Maksym Dolhulia also had his chance, but having outplayed the goalkeeper he hesitated and hit the post. Yevsyukov managed to excel, beating Bezruk and slotting past the goalkeeper.

By the time the score got to 4:1, both teams had created many chances. Phoenix’ Boldyzhev and Bodnar attacked dangerously, while Yunist’s Chukh and Pishchur missed their chances. Denis Chukh managed to change the score - he took advantage of Eldar Bratchuk’s mistake: the latter failing to jump over Danyo Vikhlyaiev, and scored into an empty net.

In the last minutes of the first half, Serhii Hrytsenko and Yurii Vashchenko made changes to the line-ups of the four-players squads. Artem Shevchenko and Vladyslav Khrypchuk entered the pitch. Yesterday's birthday boy stepped into the game immediately and made an assist to Danylo Boldyzhev, the scorer. Before the half-time break, the Kharkiv team managed to score twice more. First, an exemplary escape from the pressure was crowned by Dolhulia's through ball, which was turned into a goal by Mykhailo Soldatenko. Artem Shevchenko, finally, used his physique and, having covered the ball with his body, turned around and shot at the goal. It was not the strongest of all shots, but the goalkeeper did not save it.

Not that Yunist created zero chances, but the team could not make use of their numerical advantage in attack, often shooting from the kick-off circle.

In the second half, there was a change of goalkeepers in both teams. Volodymyr Lazeba entered the field on Phoenix’ side and Danylo Vikhlyaiev was entrusted with a place at Yunist’s goalmouth. Almost immediately the captain of the Chernihiv team conceded a ball. Danylo Khodatskyi scored.

With the score 8:2, the game calmed down to some extent. Phoenix continued with its combination play, implementing the set pieces, and Yunist had to stay close to their goal. Next, Artem Shevchenko left his name in the match history, having turned home a cross from Demyd Yevsyukov with his tommy.

In the last minutes of the match, the teams had a real shootout: neither the match operator, who changed the score on the scoreboard, nor the commentator, was able to keep up. After a corner kick, Danylo Prymachenko scored, not without a rebound, slotting past Lazeba (9:3). Immediately after that, Maksym Dolhulia ran down the flank and delivered a chip shot (10:3). Finally, several dangerous moments occurred at Lazeba’s at once. Volodymyr saved most of the kicks, failing to cope with a single one performed by Denys Chukh (10:4).

The final whistle meant Phoenix’ victory: we reached the semifinals, where today at 16:30 Phoenix will play with Youth Sports School Slobozhanske. Yunist had to make do with the title of ‘the most cheerful team of the tournament’ courtesy of the commentator.