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Ukraine Wins Battle of "Desperate Mediocrity" on Penalties
International Herald Tribune, June 27th, 2006 3:23PM

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The International Herald Tribune called it a game of "numbing caution" and "desperate mediocrity," as the Ukraine ended Switzerland's World Cup on penalties. Switzerland now has the dubious distinction of being the first team to be knocked out of the finals without conceding a goal. Which is another way of saying they didn't score enough. According to the article, neither team deserved to win, least of all Switzerland, who couldn't manage to score a single penalty. The Ukrainians, of course, were ecstatic on reaching the quarterfinals in their first World Cup. If Ukraine beats Italy on Friday, it will join a long list of unfancied European sides that have made it as far as the semifinals for four World Cups in a row. These are Bulgaria in 1994 (finished 4th), Croatia in 1998 (finished 3rd) and Turkey (finished 3rd) in 2002. As striker Andriy Voronin said, "If Brazil becomes world champion, they will not be as happy as we are tonight," adding "nobody expected anything from us." He's right, partly because anyone who expected Ukraine to qualify from its easy group expected them to be overpowered by France in the second round. A poor result against South Korea means that France now plays Spain, instead. The world may not have expected anything from Ukraine, but aside from thrashing Saudi Arabia 4-0, the world also hasn't seen much to be impressed by, as the Ukrainians were themselves walloped 4-0 by Spain before scraping by Tunisia 1-0.

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