Shevchenko praises Ukraine players for tactical discipline

Soccer Football - World Cup Qualifiers - UEFA Qualifiers - Ukraine Training - Bannikov Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - March 23, 2021 Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko during training REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

PARIS (Reuters) - Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko praised his team for their tactical discipline in their opening World Cup qualifier as they claimed a gritty point with a 1-1 draw against world champions France on Wednesday.

Ukraine played with a compact shape and were rarely in danger, conceding only one goal in the 19th minute when Antoine Griezmann unleashed a superb strike from the edge of the box into the top corner.

"In the first 30 minutes we had problems but we corrected them," Shevchenko told a news conference, explaining Ukraine had little time to prepare for the Stade de France game.

"It is very difficult to implement a new system with only one training, we worked a lot with the video analysts," he said.

"We made this choice to cover the space behind, because if we had let talented players in one-against-one situations we would have had problems. We need compact lines."

Ukraine allowed no space for France striker Kylian Mbappe, who was substituted in the second half after failing to create a chance.

"I want to congratulate my players for their efforts, they stood by the plan," Shevchenko said.

Ukraine's goal was scored by France's Presnel Kimpembe, who deflected a shot into his own net, although they had a couple of opportunities from counter-attacks.

"We had those chances but made technical mistakes," said Shevchenko.

"Sometimes after covering a lot of distance, like my players did, you're not fresh enough to make the good decisions.

"So there were a couple of technical mistakes, some wrong decisions. We could have done better but I understand where the mistakes come from and maybe it was not the moment for us."

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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