Ukraine is now 90 minutes from one of the most inspiring FIFA men's World Cup berths ever.
With war and devastation raging back home, and the very Ukrainians in battle imploring the national team to "do everything you can to go to the World Cup," Ukraine did just that Wednesday with a 3-1 win over Scotland in Glasgow.
Now Ukraine face Wales on Sunday in Cardiff for the right to play in Qatar in November.
Scotland started well in possession but Ukraine never allowed a clean chance. Meanwhile the visitors fizzed Scotland's net within the first 10 minutes, and just past the half-hour mark, Andriy Yarmolenko put Ukraine up 1-0 with a world-class first touch and a protracted dink over goalkeeper Craig Gordon.
UKRAINE GOES UP 1-0 OVER SCOTLAND IN THE WORLD CUP PLAYOFF 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/kS81s90YIX
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 1, 2022
Ukraine caught Scotland out with the long ball, as the hosts often keep only a couple of players back while in possession and didn't pressure the ball once they lost it.
Shortly after halftime, Roman Yaremchuk made it 2-0 with a header off a Oleksandr Karavayev cross.
Scotland pulled one back through in the 79th minute, when Callum McGregor's stutter-step shot deflected off Ukrainian keeper Heorhiy Bushchan and crossed the line before Taras Stepanenko could clear it.
From there, Ukraine saw out the match and Artem Dovbyk added the final goal with its last kick, earning the chance to make their World Cup dream a reality. Wales could be in trouble if the Ukrainians are as up for the match as they were Wednesday.
And that is hardly guaranteed. The brutal reality of the Russian invasion is on Ukraine's mind. The Ukrainians hadn't played a competitive match since November. They've been training in Slovenia for the past month.
Before kickoff, Ukraine's players, coaches and fans let it all out during the national anthem.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) June 1, 2022
Somehow, some way, the Ukrainians summoned the strength and composure to put together an impressive performance at Hampden Park. On that same pitch, they knocked Sweden out of Euro 2020 last summer and reached the quarterfinals, their best finish in the competition. It's a talented quad managed by Oleksandr Petrakov, who led Ukraine to a U-20 World Cup title in 2019 and earned some big results in European World Cup Group D qualifying, including a home draw vs. France and a win at eventual third-place finisher Finland.
Ukraine finished second in Group D and qualified for this current playoff. The winner will join the United States, England and Iran in Group B at the World Cup.
The pedigree is there for Ukraine to do it. The performance was there Wednesday, too.
Will it be again on Sunday? The world will watch to find out.