Ukraine 2-0 Slovenia: Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Seleznyov secure first-leg lead
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 17/11/15 12:49pm
Ukraine took control of their Euro 2016 play-off against Slovenia after a deserved 2-0 first-leg win in Lviv.
Andriy Yarmolenko put the hosts ahead in the 22nd minute before Yevhen Seleznyov doubled the advantage shortly after half-time.
Ukraine had chances to add to their advantage as Denys Garmash missed a header and Seleznyov hit the post.
Slovenia rarely threatened at the other end and will have to put in a far better display if they are to overturn the two-goal deficit in the second leg on Tuesday evening.
Ukraine, meanwhile, will fancy their chances of ending their play-off hoodoo, having failed to progress to a major international tournament via the play-offs on five occasions.
They had never been beaten at the Arena Lviv and settled into their stride quickly following a minute's silence in memory of those affected by the attacks in Paris on Friday evening.
Vyacheslav Shevchuk looked a threat down the left flank and Artem Fedetsky had a shot deflected just past the post.
Yarmolenko was Ukraine's top scorer in qualifying and it was the Dynamo Kiev winger who broke the deadlock midway through the half.
After collecting Samir Handanovic's weak punch he feigned to shoot, shifted the ball onto his right foot and fired into the far corner.
Up until that point the visitors had showed little attacking threat, and a half-volley from Josip Ilicic that sailed over the top in the 28th minute was their first attempt on goal.
They had a great chance to pull level before the half-hour mark, though, when Valter Birsa fed an unmarked Milivoje Novakovic inside the area but his first touch let him down as the ball span through to goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.
Handanovic made a one-handed save from Serhiy Rybalka's long-range try and pushed Garmash's header from another Yevzhen Konoplyanka corner over the top as Ukraine ended the first period on top.
And it was no surprise to see the home side double their lead nine minutes after the break.
Again Yarmolenko was involved, finding an overlapping Fedetsky with a pass inside the full-back, and his ball across the six-yard box found Seleznyov sliding in to score from virtually on the line.
The Dnipro forward immediately checked for an offside flag, but it was not forthcoming.
Ukraine should have added to their advantage but Garmash headed at Handanovic and Seleznyov hit the post after some slack defending from Slovenia.
Konoplyanka then sliced a shot wide as Ukraine won an eighth successive international in Lviv, while Slovenia will feel fortunate to escape with just a two-goal deficit ahead of the return leg.