Austria Dismisses Ukraine To Set Up Last-16 Date With Italy At Wembley

With a 1-0 victory over Ukraine at the National Arena in Bucharest, Romania on Monday, Austria punched its ticket to the Euro 2020 Round of 16 as Group C runner-up, meaning that they’ll play Italy on Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London.

Ukraine finishes third in the group, so they now face a nervous wait to see if they sneak into the knockout rounds as one of the four best third-place teams. History says they won’t, as three points and a goal difference of —1 wouldn’t have been enough at Euro 2016. 

Based on today’s evidence, Ukraine really doesn’t belong at the next stage. Despite the lively Ukraine crowd, Andriy Shevchenko’s side fell flat.

Austria’s strength is in its defense, where David Alaba, Martin Hinteregger and the holding midfield duo of Xaver Schlager and Florian Grillitsch ensure that nothing comes easy for opponents. Despite the need for a positive result, Ukraine managed only one shot on target and lacked any sense of urgency throughout the entire 90 minutes. 

At the other end, it was Alaba who provided the corner kick in the 21st minute that was met by the flying foot of Christoph Baumgartner.  

It should’ve been 2-0 before halftime, but Marko Arnautović missed a sitter on his return from a one-match ban for a “nationalistic outburst.”

It’ll be fascinating to see if the likes of Arnautović, Baumgartner, Marcel Sabitzer and Konrad Laimer can trouble Italy’s impregnable defense, but a trip to the last-16 already represents Austria’s best European Championship showing ever.  

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