Viktor Tsygankov condemned the Republic of Ireland to another bout of Nations League disappointment as Ukraine bounced back from their failure to qualify for the World Cup.
The Dynamo Kyiv midfielder, who had been introduced as a half-time substitute, caught goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher on his heels with a 48th-minute free-kick to claim a 1-0 victory in Dublin and extend Ireland’s winless run in the competition to 12 games.
That Oleksandr Petrakov’s men prevailed despite making 10 changes to the team which started against Wales on Sunday said much about their strength in depth, but also highlighted again the lack of cutting edge and creativity available to his opposite number, Stephen Kenny, who saw the defender Shane Duffy denied by the woodwork late on.
Even when Ireland did find time and space, poor decision-making meant the keeper Andriy Lunin barely had a save of note to make, and Kenny’s hopes of winning the League B group already look forlorn, having lost their previous match to Armenia. They next entertain Scotland in Dublin on Saturday.
Elsewhere, the substitute Leandro Trossard scored twice as Belgium put their recent 4-1 defeat to Netherlands behind them to thump Poland 6-1 in a pulsating Nations League A game at the King Baudouin Stadium.
Belgium fell behind when Robert Lewandowski scored just before the half-hour, but levelled before the break through Axel Witsel.
They dominated the second period and after goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Trossard (two), Leander Dendoncker and debutant Lois Openda they moved second in Group 4 after two rounds, above Poland in third. Belgium visit bottom side Wales on Saturday while Poland travel to the Netherlands. Poland host Belgium in their return fixture on Tuesday.