Canada plays Ukraine to a 2-2 draw in Kyiv

Canada came away with a 2:2 draw against European side Ukraine in a Men’s International Friendly match in Kyiv, Ukraine. The match was played on Friday 8 October as part of the schedule of FIFA International Dates. Canada scored two goals in the first half before a different Ukrainian lineup evened the score with two goals in the second half.

Canada got goals from Simeon Jackson and Atiba Hutchinson before Ukraine equalised with goals from Artem Milevsky and Anatoliy Tymoschuk. It was Jackson who opened the scoring in the 12th minute.

To score, Jackson beat a defender and fired a quick shot over Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Piatov who was off the line. The shot caught Piatov by surprise and was placed perfectly underneath the crossbar. The Jackson goal was assisted by Hutchinson.

In the 29th minute, Simpson created a nice run up the midfield before slotting a pass directly ahead to Hutchinson on the run. Hutchinson just reached the ball before Piatov, sidestepped with the ball to the left, and slotted home the ball before his angle closed off. It was Canada 2, Ukraine 0.

Canada carried much of the possession, but Ukraine held its own and created chances throughout the half. Canada’s Lars Hirschfeld was particularly good on a diving save to his right to stop a long hard shot by the Ukrainian offence.

Before the start of the second half, Ukraine made several substitutions to change the face of their lineup. The new Ukraine team came out strong and created several chances in the opening minutes. On one quick play in the 47th minute, Canada drew the ball away from one Ukrainian forward only to push the ball directly in the path of Shevchenko inside the box. Fortunately, Hirschfeld was well positioned to make the big save for Canada.

Ukraine continued to create its chances and Canada could only hold up for so long. In the 59th minute, great first touches by three Ukrainian substitutes cut the Canadian lead in half. Oleksandr Aliev started the scramble and got the ball to Oleg Gusev. Gusev made a nice turn and fired a powerful shot that struck the post. The rebound came across the goal to Artem Milevsky, who buried the shot into an empty net.

Then in the 80th minute, Ukraine took advantage of successive corner kicks to put them level with 10 minutes to play. After trying to get the ball in the box, Ukraine decided to play it all the way back to Anatoliy Tymoschuk who charged in on a big run to score from distance, straight on by the Canadian defence and goalkeeper. The score was tied 2-2.

The fans came alive, but the scoreline would not change. Canada held up for the 2-2 draw against a very good Ukraine side. Substitute Oleksandr Aliev was their best player in the second half.

For this match, Canada’s starting XI featured Lars Hirschfeld in goal, Marcel de Jong at left back, Adam Straith and Dejan Jakovic at centre back, Paul Stalteri at right back, Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault, Patrice Bernier and Atiba Hutchinson at midfield, and Simeon Jackson, Josh Simpson and Olivier Occean up front. Beaulieu-Bourgault was making his first start with the national team.

In the second half, coach Hart made three substitutions. He switched Beaulieu-Bourgault for Nik Ledgerwood, Occean for Marcus Haber, and Simpson for Issey Nakajima-Farran. For Haber, it was his first appearance with Canada’s national A team.

After the match, coach Hart not only congratulated Hutchinson who made his 50th appearance for Canada, but also sent along his best wishes to Ukraine’s Andriy Shevchenko who on this night made his 100th appearance with the national team. Shevchenko was honoured by the Ukraine Football Federation in a pre-match ceremony.

Incidentally, Canada remains unbeaten on Friday nights in 11 years, with four wins and three draws in seven matches since 8 October 1999. Also, as mentioned in the press conference, this trip marks the 50th anniversary of Canada’s last trip to Ukraine in 1960 (which was then part of the Soviet Union). In 1960, Canada’s national team played Soviet club teams Avangard Kharkov (2:2 draw in Kharkov) and Stalino (1:2 loss in Donetsk).

Since the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, Canada has one win, one draw and one loss in three matches. Canada has scored four goals in those matches, with goals from Josh Simpson, Kevin McKenna, Simeon Jackson and Atiba Hutchinson.

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