Looking to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat to the USA in their Group A opener on Saturday, Myanmar held their own in a goalless first-half at the Northland Events Centre before a spectacular second-half capitulation saw them overwhelmed by their European opponents.
Three goals in a three-minute spell effectively ended the match as a contest as goals from Roman Yaremchuk (51st), substitute Valeri Luchkevych (54th) and Viktor Kovalenko (57th) gave Myanmar the proverbial mountain to climb.
But things got worse for the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship semi-finalists as further goals from Eduard Sobol (68th) Artem Biesiedin (71st) and a second from Kovalenko (78th) doubled the advantage for Ukraine, who could even afford to missed penalty from Pavlo Polehenko, which was awarded in the 74thminute after Thiha Htet Aung was penalised – and subsequently sent off – for handling the ball on the line to deny Luchkevych a goal.
Myanmar head coach Gerd Zeise pulled no punches in his assessment of the match saying:
“Obviously we only had the power for one match. The European teams play in another league and we cannot follow. We are too blind and we do not have the experience, that’s absolutely clear.
“It was a disaster and this tournament has come too early for us. We cannot follow these teams, no chance. My team was too poor. It was just like the USA game, in the first 15-20 minutes of the second-half we gave the game away.
“We must be realists, the party is over. I must apologise to the Myanmar fans, I am responsible for this disaster, but I can’t turn a cyclist into a racing driver”
Zeise named an identical starting 11 to the one he selected for Myanmar’s FIFA U-20 World Cup debut against the USA on Saturday, while the German’s opposite number Oleksandr Petrakov made one change to the team that began the goalless draw with hosts New Zealand in the tournament curtain raiser, with Roman Yaremchuk starting in place of Dynamo Kyiv team-mate Ihor Kharatin.
But it was the second-half introduction of Luchkevych, an unused substitute during Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk’s UEFA Europa League Final defeat to Sevilla, that was the catalyst for the one-sided victory.
“I’m very pleased with the game and the result. I had planned to bring Luchkevych at half-time ahead of the game, as we were lacking speed,” said Petrakov.
“We had agreed that he would start the second half and he really improved our game. Like in the New Zealand game, we struggled to score our chances in the first half, but this clearly changed after the break.”
Yaremchuk broke the deadlock when he headed home Yevhan Chumkah’s cross nine minutes into the second half before Luchkevych doubled Ukraine’s advantage just three minutes later with a sublime chip over Myanmar keeper Myo Min Latt.
The Min Latt denied Luchkevych his second only for the Kanbawza custodian to be beaten for a third time in the space of six minutes when Kovalenko slotted in the rebound.
Kovalenko then turned provider for Metalurg fullback Sobol to make it 4-0 in the 68th minute before Luchkevych skilfully set up Biesiedin three minutes later for number five.
Ukraine squandered a golden opportunity to add to their advantage in the 74th minute when Brazilian referee Ricardo Marques awarded them a penalty after Thiha Htet Aung after his deliberate handball had denied Luchkevych his second only for Dynamo Kyiv’s Polehenko to miss the spot-kick.
But the sixth and final goal wasn’t long in coming as Biesiedin provided the assist for Kovalenko to complete the scoring four minutes later and compound a nightmare of a second half for Myanmar, who must now pick themselves up for what is likely to be their tournament swansong when they face hosts New Zealand on Friday.