It was Wales’ penultimate match before this summer’s Euros
Ukraine 1-0 Wales
Wales’ gamble to take a pre-Euro 2016 fixture in Ukraine backfired as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat.
Manager Chris Coleman had admitted before heading out to Kiev that the game was a “risk” with this being Wales’ penultimate match before this summer’s championships in France.
But momentum before Wales’ first major tournament appearance for 58 years is in short supply now; it is only one win in their last six games – and that was against one of the whipping boys of European football, Andorra.
Andriy Yarmolenko’s first-half effort proved enough against Wales, who were once again without key players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey as Coleman set up his side with the summer’s Euro 2016 group game against Russia very much in mind.
Ukraine will also be at Euro 2016 in the same group as Germany, Poland and Northern Ireland and the size of Wales’ task was summed up by the fact they had lost only two of their previous 15 matches, both against reigning European champions Spain.
Northern Ireland 1-0 Slovenia
Northern Ireland set a new record of ten games unbeaten by defeating Slovenia 1-0 thanks to a goal from Conor Washington on just his second visit to the country.
The benchmark of nine games without defeat, which had been set by Billy Bingham’s team when they reached the 1986 World Cup, was eclipsed in Belfast on Monday night by the next Northern Irish team to qualify for a major international tournament.
Their match-winner was not part of the start of that run, though the Kent-born former postman may have done enough to get a seat on the plane to France for Euro 2016 after scoring four minutes before the break.
Washington’s only previous sojourn to Northern Ireland had been for Peterborough in pre-season and the QPR striker ensured he made his mark during this trip by out-muscling two Slovenia defenders before firing past Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Goalkeeper Roy Carroll had been present for the 2-1 win over Finland 12 months ago when Northern Ireland began their 10-game sequence, and the 38-year-old had a major part to play in preserving the streak by saving a second-half penalty from substitute Milivoje Novakovic.
Whether Washington starts or not against Poland on June 12 in his country’s opening fixture in France may depend on what formation boss Michael O’Neill selects.