After yesterday's match with the home team, successful in terms of the outcome but unsuccessful in terms of the play, Phoenix had half a day to work on its mistakes. And today's confrontation with FC Kopa Lviv, which was the leader in our group after the first round, showed that the work had not been in vain.
Phoenix surprised all by sending the second four-players squad into the court at the start of the game, which traditionally consisted of Boldyzhev, Bodnar, Yevsyukov and Bezruk. Lazeba was on his guard at Phoenix’ goalmouth. Kopa’s main change in the line-up was the absence of the team captain Yulian Vyshynsky, who was removed in yesterday's game.
The teams never met each other before, so it was hard to even imagine how the match would play out. On the one hand, Kopa finished the game of the first round with a score of 16:5, whereas Phoenix won in a matchup that was more challenging to handle - 12:10. On the other hand, the opponents could also differ in class, as, according to Artem Terentyev, the commentator, the Chernihiv Yunist, which the Kharkivites beat the day before, even though it was a near thing, was one of the top dogs of the tournament. In any case, the face-to-face meeting of the teams that scored three points in the first round had to determine whose claims to reach the semifinal were more serious.
Both teams began the match cautiously, as if feeling each other out. At Phoenix a large number of unforced losses, bad passes and shots off target were striking, especially in the first four-player squad. Lazeba had to enter the game several times; the most dangerous moment involved Aleksander, who scored into Phoenix's net twice. The second four-player squad showed better control of the ball, but it was them who conceded the first ball: Mikhalenych counterattacked and lobbed Lazeba. Fortunately for Phoenix we managed to win back with lightning speed: in less than thirty seconds, as Boldyzhev’s powerful kick was turned home by Bodnar at the far post.
After the exchange of goals scored, the game revived for a while. Kopa players sent a dangerous penalty kick but the ball went past the far post. In another moment, no one turned home a dangerous through ball in Lazeba’s penalty area. Ivan Konkov had two scoring chances, but Dmytro Migal played confidently on the line. After the change of four-player squads, Bezruk had a true chance. He seemed to be left all alone on the doorstep, his scoop turn, though, ended in an inaccurate shot. Boldyzhev delivered two powerful shots, Migal played beyond praise. Finally Phoenix’ efforts led to a goal scored: Demyd Yevsyukov went smartly down the center, beat two defenders, and kicked accurately into the top corner, making the score 2:1 in Phoenix’ favor.
Kopa’s coach took a minute break, after which the Galician team started a positional attack. At Phoenix there were changes in the line-up of the four-player squads: Zamula entered the court for the first time, replacing Konkov. The teams did not create that many chances until the end of the first half, though. The most dangerous was the free kick played by Phoenix, but Maksym Dolhulia, who entered the field to play the set piece, shot wide of the goal.
In the second half Phoenix coaches used the same line-up as in the first half of the meeting, leaving Volodymyr Lazeba in the goal frame. The Kharkiv team slowed down, keeping in mind the second match of the day to follow this one, not really forcing events in the attack, but playing reliably in defense. For several minutes Kopa could not create a single full-fledged moment, limiting itself to long-range shots, which did not pose a danger to Lazeba. After a pause, Phoenix managed to catch the opponent in a counterattack: Demyd Yevsyukov fought on the right flank and took the ball away, sending it to the opposite flank, where Mykyta Bodnar could only shoot past the goalkeeper. The violets felt the weakness in Kopa’s defense and readiness to take the score to bigger numbers. Bodnar paid Yevsyukov back by giving a similar pass from the flank, but Demyd shot above the gate from the air. Bodnar and Bezruk went out together against one defender of the Lviv team, but the goalkeeper saved Bezruk's ball. Seeing the confusion in his players, quite timely, Kopa’s coach took a minute break to make adjustments to the game.
After a timeout, Maksym Dolhulia entered the field, replacing Mykhailo Soldatenko in the first four-player squad. A ggreat chance was wasted by Artem Shevchenko, who missed the ball after a pass by Khodatskyi. Kopa created chances, but they looked more like random than well-thought-out combinations. The most dangerous episode was created by Prus, who performed a head shot after a high ball across the entire field. But Kopa conceded instead. Maksym Dolhulia removed the defender on the right flank brilliantly and shot to the far post, Artem Shevchenko was accurate.
When the score was 4:1, Kopa did not stop attacking, trying to at least equalize the score until the very last minutes of the match. A dangerous free kick ended with Prus's kick, which went wide of the goal. At Phoenix Boldyzhev stood out in those minutes: he first struck powerfully into the near corner (helped out by the goalkeeper), then tried to score Panenka-style and then created a moment for Olexandr Bezruk. Artem Shevchenko missed his chance, failing to turn home Danylo Khodatsky's cool pass. A minute later, though, Phoenix’s pivot corrected itself, intercepted Kapa’s defenders’ pass and, having beaten the goalkeeper, managed a brace. In the last minutes Soldatenko, Konkov and Khrypchuk entered the field and brought the match to victory, in a confident manner, keeping the score at 5:1.
This result coupled with Yunist’s win over Novy Buh Youth Sports School, guaranteed that our team will enter the semi-final of the Ukrainian Cup from the first position. Our rival will be determined in the match between the Valki Youth Sports School and the Kamyani Potoky Youth Sports School.