Viktor Kovalenko

Kovalenko hat trick drops US U-20s to second; Group C runner-up is next

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A trio of second-half goals from Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Viktor Kovalenko guided Ukraine to a 3-0 win over the United States in the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand early Friday morning.

The States were hoping for a unbeaten record in group play after wins over Myanmar and New Zealand, but couldn’t contain Kovalenko, starting with a free kick in the 56th minute.

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Captain Emerson Hyndman failed to convert a Jordan Allen-won penalty kick for the U.S. that could’ve quickly leveled things after Ukraine took a 1-0 lead, but goalkeeper Bohdan Sarnavskyi guessed correctly and made the save.

Kovalenko added goals in the 74th and 79th minutes to complete his hat trick.

Cue Tab Ramos, from FIFA.com:

We played a type of game that we normally are not used to playing. It was an open game. We tried hard and did a good job considering that we kept a couple of players off today, like Rubin. We had to go and search for [the result] but I had to take the central midfielder off, so we weren’t playing at full strength at the end. You obviously want to come in first place, but any team we play now is gonna be a good team.”

Next for the U.S.: the runners-up in Group C. Portugal currently leads the group with six points, but could finish second if it loses to Colombia on Saturday. Senegal can still finish second with a Portugal win if it beats Qatar and erases four goals of differential between it and Colombia.

LINEUPS

United States: Steffen, Moore, Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown, Acosta; Delgado (Soñora, 60), Hyndman (Donovan, 84), Zelalem, Allen (Rubin, 67); Arriola, Jamieson IV

Ukraine: Sarnavskyi; Kacharaba, Burda, Chumak (Habelok, 80), Polehenko; Kabaiev, Biesiedin (Yaremchuk, 85), Luchkevych, Kovalenko (Tkachuk, 87); Sobol, Kharatin

Goals: Kovalenko 3 (56′, 74′, 79′)