BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Ukraine suffered the consequences of simple first-half errors against a physical Austria side in a 1-0 defeat in their final group game on Monday that likely will knock them out of the Euro 2020 tournament, coach Andriy Shevchenko said on Monday.
Christoph Baumgartner’s first-half goal sealed a slice of history for Austria as they defeated dismal Ukraine 1-0 to finish runners-up in Group C and seal a first ever place in the last 16 of the European Championship.
The Group C result leaves Ukraine sweating on what looks a slim chance that they will be among the four best third-placed teams and also earn a place in the knockout stages.
"It was physically tough for us," Shevchenko said. "We were late everywhere. We weren't ready. We weren't even present in the game. This is not the level of football we want to show."
The poor performance came as a surprise for a side that finished top of their qualifying group, picking up 20 points from their eight games – three more than holders Portugal. But they showed none of that tenacity against workmanlike Austria.
Ukraine fell behind after 21 minutes when David Alaba's corner reached Christoph Baumgartner, who had moved ahead of defender Ilya Zabarnyi and prodded the ball into the net.
Shevchenko bemoaned the build-up that led to Austria's goal but praised his players for showing spirit on the pitch despite an inability to match their opponents physically.
"Our players gave everything in the second half but sometimes you have these games where whatever you do nothing goes well," he said.
"Sooner or later it leads to mistakes. We lost a simple ball in the midfield, then conceded that corner and the goal. After that goal, we largely didn’t have a chance to come back into the game."
Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko accepted Ukraine had a slim hope of making it to the last 16 and pinned the loss on mental rather than physical qualities.
"We have to be the winners on the pitch," he said. "We have to fight and try to win all individual duels. But now we probably just have to accept our level."
"Our performance in the first half was unacceptable. The way we behaved on the pitch was unacceptable. We felt very well ahead of the game in the training sessions but nothing worked for us tonight."
(Reporting by Michael Kahn in Prague, Editing by Ken Ferris)