UHERSKEHRADISTE, Czech Republic (Reuters) – Ukraine substitute Oleksandr Zinchenko struck a late goal as the visitors snatched a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Czech Republic in their Nations League opener on Thursday.
It looked like the entertaining League B, Group 1 contest was heading towards a draw until Zinchenko tapped a cross into an empty net with seconds remaining.
The Czechs had taken an early lead through Patrik Schick but Yevhen Konoplyanka pulled Ukraine level just before the break.
Ukraine dominated large parts of the match, with 10 shots on target compared to five for the home side and forcing Czech goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik into a number of saves.
Schick got the hosts off to a dream start in the fourth minute when he carried the ball down the wing and unleashed a left-foot shot past keeper Andriy Pyatov at the near post.
The visitors then took control of the game, levelling the score when Andriy Yarmolenko let a pass go through his legs to Konoplyanka who took a touch and then fired home.
Ukraine forced Vaclik into several point blank saves near the end as they looked for a winner and were rewarded just before the final whistle with Zinchenko’s last-gasp goal.
Slovakia are the other nation in the three-team group.
The Nations League, brainchild of European soccer governing body UEFA, aims to boost interest in internationals that are seen by clubs and fans as disruptive to domestic football.
Held every two years, it features all 55 of Europe’s national teams divided into four divisions — Leagues A to D — that are themselves split into four groups.
Matches are played between September and November.
(Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Ken Ferris)