Ukraine players are blameless after World Cup heartbreak, says head coach Oleksandr Petrakov

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 (PA)
(PA)

Ukraine players are blameless, says head coach Oleksandr Petrakov, after losing Sunday’s World Cup play-off to Wales.

An own goal from Andriy Yarmolenko and a man-of-the-match performance from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey saw Wales run out 1-0 winners in Cardiff.

Asked what he had said to Yarmolenko, whose misdirected header from a Gareth Bale free-kick flew in his own net for the winner, a downbeat Petrakov said he had simply thanked him and all the players.

"I can only say thank you for everything he did for the team. I do not have any criticism to any of the players in the team. There is no need to touch any of the players," he said.

"If you want to criticise, criticise me, the head coach. If the team wins, it is the players. If it loses, the only loser is the coach.

"I think we did everything we could but I want the people of Ukraine to remember our team, our efforts. I want to say sorry we didn't score but that is sport, that happens. I am lost for words, I don't know what to say," he added.

Throughout the preparation for this week's games, Petrakov has made impassioned comments about the war in his homeland following Russia's invasion in February. Russia calls the invasion "a special military operation".

"You know what is happening in Ukraine, we have war waging all over the country, children and women dying on a daily basis and our infrastructure being ruined by Russian barbarians," he said.

"The Russians want to hurt us and we just want your support. God forbid if it would touch any of you," he added.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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