On a mild evening at the Vijverberg Stadium in Doetinchem, Ukraine and Turkey played out a pulsating 2-2 draw in their final Group B game at the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005. In a keenly contested battle with chances aplenty at both ends, a series of set pieces finally decided the tie and allowed Oleksandr Aliiev to become the tournament top-scorer with two splendidly executed free kicks.
Needing a win to be sure of progressing in the tournament, Turkey showed some early nerves in their wayward passing in what turned out to be a full-blooded and passionate affair. Ukraine, by contrast, looked distinctly more composed in the early exchanges.
The deadlock was broken just minutes into the match when Turkish goalkeeper Kirintili fumbled a low-flying Oleksandr Aliiev free kick from the edge of the box and watched in horror as it squeezed in (0:1, 5').
However, Turkey immediately got back on level terms after the Spanish referee adjudged Grygoriy Yarmash to have brought down Gokhan Gulec in the six-yard box. Sezer Ozturk made no mistake form the ensuing spot-kick (1:1, 8').
Aliiev then gave another demonstration of his imperious talent with the dead ball, this time finding the target with a searing free kick from distance. The shocked Turkish keeper was too stunned to move and the Ukrainian sharpshooter had his fifth goal of Netherlands 2005 (1:2, 19').
Turkey tried to exploit the pace of Olcan Adin down the wing, but his final ball lacked the precision to pick out a colleague. The game then ebbed and flowed from one end to the other, though it was frequently interrupted with fouls. In the stands, a sea of red Turkish supporters roared on their heroes as they attempted to get back on even terms.
Then, just before the interval, Sergiy Silyuk was given his marching orders after the Ukranian midfielder picked up a second yellow card for moving an opponent's ball after the whistle had sounded. His team-mate Aliiev then tried to repeat his earlier heroics from a free kick, but this time his shot flew across the area and wide of the target.
Ukraine stand their ground
Despite being a man down, Alexei Mikhailichenko's side refused to cede terrain. Five minutes into the second half Dmytro Vorobei found himself one on one with Serkan Kirintili, but on this occasion the Turkish keeper came out on top.
Two minutes later, Sezer Ozturk brought his side level for the second time in the match with an angled free kick from the left that Musin got a hand to but failed to keep out (2:2, 53').
The extra man was beginning to take its toll on Ukraine who were finding it increasingly difficult to get out of their own half. Aliiev, still hungry for more, did what he could to relieve the pressure and came close to restoring his side's lead on two occasions.
"We played with 10 men for all of the second half and this obviously meant our system went out the window. Nonetheless, we managed to keep them from winning the game. I'm pleased with the effort my players put in. They did everything possible to win. Even more pleasing was the fact that they played tonight as a real team," Ukranian coach Alexei Mikhailichenko said afterwards.
Turkey continued to threaten late in the game and a good opportunity fell to Burak Yilmaz fifteen minutes from time. Unfortunately, his header was blocked by an acrobatic save from Musin in the Ukrainian goal.
As the final seconds passed, the Turkish bench grew more and more agitated, aware that a draw would not suffice for an automatic place in the last 16. In the stands, the equally disappointed Turkish supporters vented their frustration by throwing firecrackers in the direction of the opposition's goal, leading the referee to momentarily halt proceedings until order could be restored.