Oleksandr Zinchenko bounces back from early mistake to steer Ukraine to victory over Slovakia

  • Zinchenko went from villain to hero in Ukraine's 2-1 win over Slovakia
  • Poor defending saw his side fall behind before his excellent assist tied things up
  • Left-back produced sensational second-half showing to steer Ukraine to victory
Zinchenko steered Ukraine to victory
Zinchenko steered Ukraine to victory / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Oleksandr Zinchenko stepped up when Ukraine needed him most to help secure their first three points of Euro 2024 at Slovakia's expense on Friday.

Ukraine headed into the game under immense pressure after a shock 3-0 thumping from Romania in their opening match and frustrations continued to grow when Slovakia took the lead 17 minutes in.

A cross into the box appeared to catch Zinchenko completely off-guard and the Arsenal defender was woefully unprepared for the leap of Ivan Schranz, who nodded home to put Slovakia ahead.

Ukraine failed to hold on to the ball in the first half but showed signs of growing into the game and that continued in the second half when key figures like Zinchenko emerged revitalised.

Nine minutes after the restart, Zinchenko atoned for his earlier slip-up with a great cross in for Mykola Shaparenko, who gave it the finish it deserved to tie things up and restore a sense of calm among the Ukraine fans.

Zinchenko was at his best for the remainder of the game, controlling possession and chipping in at both ends of the field, and his hard work would be rewarded with a late winner from Roman Yaremchuk.

Oleksandr Zinchenko, Anatoliy Trubin
Zinchenko responded admirably / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

At club level, Zinchenko faces an uncertain future at Arsenal, with a new left-back believed to be on manager Mikel Arteta's wish list this summer.

The 27-year-old began the season as Arsenal's starting left-back but lost his place after suffering an injury in February and was restricted to sporadic appearances in the final run-in as the Gunners pushed for the Premier League title.

Arteta instead preferred right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu out of position and has been tipped to cash in on Zinchenko, whose contract at the Emirates Stadium has just two years left to run.