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Kayleigh Barton penalty rescues home draw for Wales against Ukraine

31 May 2024 3 minute read
Kayleigh Barton scores from the spot to make it 1-1 (Credit: BBC Wales)

Phil Blanche, PA

Wales lost their 100 per cent record in Euro 2025 qualifying as Kayleigh Barton’s second-half penalty prevented defeat to Ukraine in Llanelli.

Barton’s spot-kick secured a hard-fought 1-1 draw after Veronika Andrukhiv had fired Ukraine ahead inside three minutes.

Only two places separated the countries in the FIFA world rankings, with Wales placed at 32 and Ukraine 34.

Wales had started the Rhian Wilkinson era with 4-0 and 6-0 qualifying wins over Croatia and Kosovo last month and were seeking to build on that early momentum in the chase for a play-off place in the autumn.

Ukraine were second seeds behind the Dragons when the group was drawn but travelled to west Wales on the back of a surprise loss to Croatia.

The visitors profited from the opening attack, with Wales the architects of their own downfall to concede for the first time in five games.

Rhiannon Roberts, having received a return pass from goalkeeper Olivia Clark, passed it straight to Andrukhiv, who found an unguarded net from 20 yards with aplomb.

Wales responded positively with some smart link-up play that saw Ceri Holland release Jess Fishlock through on goal.

But Fishlock, scorer of 42 international goals, delayed her shot and Olha Basanska blocked.

Holland was the next home player to break beyond the Ukraine defence.

The Liverpool attacker shifted the ball neatly around keeper Daria Keliushyk but was unable to find a waiting red shirt in the middle.

Fishlock saw a rasping 20-yard effort tipped over by the athletic Keliushyk, but Ukraine were difficult to break down and Wales attempts began to dry up as the half developed.

Ukraine were relieved when Fishlock failed to keep down a high bouncing ball on the edge of the area before Roberts reacted well to deny Yana Kalinina.

Wilkinson shuffled her attacking cards at half-time, with Barton and Rachel Rowe sent on for Ffion Morgan and Mary McAteer.

It was a shrewd move as both substitutes were busy and Wales increased the tempo.

But Wales were still let down by wayward final passes until literally being handed a lifeline by Ukraine.

Rowe’s determination down the right set up skipper Angharad James for a powerful shot that Keliushyk batted out.

The ball was recycled and Holland’s goalbound drive was pushed away by the diving Basanska in a fashion Keliushyk would have been proud of.

Barton confidently tucked away the 64th-minute penalty for her 19th Wales goal.

Wales pressed furiously in the final minutes, but Fishlock and Rowe could not convert chances and Ukraine were content to claim a point.

The two sides meet again on Tuesday, with war-torn Ukraine’s home qualifier being played in neighbouring Poland.

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