Ukraine 4 Saudi Arabia 0
It's quite possibe that a whole bunch of soccer newbies will be watching SportCenter tonight and during World Cup highlights will say to themselves, "Hey, wait a second. That's the guy who does the ESPN commercial with Scott Van Pelt."
That's because, afer a disastrous and largely anonymous effort in Ukraine's opener against Spain, Andriy Shevchenko opened his World Cup account today.
And so did Ukraine in a big way against Saudi Arabia in a 4-0 thrashing.
It's not often a team gets so thoroughly walloped as Ukraine did in its first game only to find itself stting pretty heading into its group stage finale. But that's where Ukraine currently sits with three points and a game with Tunisia on hand. The common perception that Group H would provide little resistance to the advancement of Spain and Ukraine appears to have been correct.
And if today's performance by Shevchenko and his teammates is any indication, Ukraine's awful effort against Spain may have been little more than a bad case of nerves induced from being on the biggest stage for the first time. You had to feel that Ukraine wasn't nearly as bad as that 4-0 scoreline suggested, and to be fair, Spain was the recipient of a couple of goals off of set pieces as well as one horrible penalty kick called on and red card given to an Ukrainian defender. Point is, you had to figure Ukraine would bounce back. Today's effort was exactly that. Their feet are now wet. They will be a team to be reckoned with from here on out.
As for Saudi Arabia, it was shades of their awful World Cup of 2002, which included an 8-0 rout at the hands of Germany. The Saudis really do need to stop embarrassing themselves like this. And to think, they were agonizingly close to earning the maximum points against Tunisia and looking splendid. How quickly things can change.