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Penalty proves enough for Ukraine

story.shevchenko.jpg
Shevchenko slots home the spot-kick which sealed Ukraine's qualification.

SPECIAL REPORT

BERLIN, Germany -- A dubious penalty won and taken by Andriy Shevchenko was enough to see Ukraine through to the next round of the World Cup at their first attempt as they beat 10-man Tunisia 1-0 in Group H.

Shevchenko appeared to trip as he tussled for the ball with Tunisian defender Karim Haggui.

But Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla pointed straight to the spot and Shevchenko sent Tunisia goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel the wrong way with the kick after 70 minutes.

It was rough justice on the 2004 African champions who should have been awarded one of their own minutes before when Andriy Voronin handled a goalbound freekick from Anis Ayari.

However, their exit meant they have still not reached the second round in their history and provides more woe for coach Roger Lemerre, who is winless in six matches at two successive World Cups, having been in charge of France in 2002.

Shevchenko said Ukraine, who ended with six points after starting the campaign with a 4-0 humbling by tabletoppers Spain, had achieved their basic target.

"We are very happy to have made the last 16 -- that was our target. I don't mind who we are up against there," insisted the 29-year-old Chelsea-bound striker, looking ahead to a possible meeting with France, South Korea or Switzerland.

"All the teams are strong at this stage. If the team shows heart then with our fans behind us we can hopefully go further," he added.

Voronin was also at fault the other end as he could have doubled Ukraine's advantage seconds before the whistle, but misfired.

The Ukrainians' breakthrough came after Ukraine had looked the most threatening in an untidy match littered with yellow cards in front of another 72,000 sellout crowd in the Olympic Stadium.

Tunisia's slim hopes suffered a body blow when striker Zied Jaziri was sent off just before half-time for a second yellow card after tripping Anatoliy Tymoschuk.

It had always looked as if Shevchenko would be the difference between the teams as his darting runs pulled the Tunisia defence apart.

He showed his class with a delightful backheader on the halfway line in the closing stages that left the Tunisian defence flat-footed but Oleg Shelayev shot harmlessly over the crossbar despite having time to control the ball and take aim.

Tunisia toiled but created few genuine goalscoring chances, although impressive defender Hatem Trabelsi drilled a shot wide in the 85th minute with their best opportunity of the second half.

The error-strewn first half saw few chances.

On 20 minutes, Tymoschuk forced Tunisia keeper Ali Boumnijel into a reflex save and Shevchenko badly miskicked with an attempted volley.

Shevchenko thrust forward on the half-hour mark after exchanging a neat one-two but he was bundled off the ball before he could shoot.

Ukraine will have to play their next match without Andriy Rusol and Vyacheslav Sviderskyi who earned suspensions for bookings.

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