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After turmoil, football gives Ukraine something to smile about

sports Updated: Mar 07, 2014 00:40 IST
Ukraine's national football

Ukraine's national football team gave its troubled country something to cheer about on Wednesday when it beat the United States 2-0 in an international friendly.

The match had been overshadowed by the turmoil in Ukraine and its players said before the game that they were dedicating it to their people back home. The friendly was shifted from Kharkiv to Cyprus due to the political protests that have followed Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.

Andriy Yarmolenko scored in the 12th minute and Marko Devic in the 68th as Ukraine exposed the shaky American central defense of Oguchi Onyewu and Anthony Brooks.

Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko said the troubles at home were on his players' minds but he was satisfied with the result. "Of course we do it for our supporters, for our country," Fomenko said. "I asked (the players) to make our people happy, we had to show that we're all united."

US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said his team's thoughts go out to the Ukrainian people.

Before kickoff, Ukraine players linked arms on shoulders during their national anthem and both teams bowed their heads for a moment's silence for victims of the violence in Ukraine. A banner in the stands read "Ukraine is Undivided!" on the top and "One Country - One Team!" on the bottom.

The crowd of 1,573 at Papadopoulos Stadium, which has a capacity of about 10,000, was so small that players could be heard talking with each other during the game. Ukrainian fans sang their nation's anthem in the final moments.

"Our country is facing difficult times now, we must support our team and our country," said Oleg Ivanovskyi a fan from Kiev currently residing in Larnaca. "Ukraine lives and will live. This friendly match is important for us to show the friendship between the U.S. and Ukraine. The friendship between the two countries is more important than the score."