Nathan Collins’ only regret is his goal did not earn Ireland win over Ukraine

The Burnley defender’s opener was cancelled out by Artem Dovbyk.
Nathan Collins’ only regret is his goal did not earn Ireland win over Ukraine

By Damian Spellman, PA, Lodz

Republic of Ireland defender Nathan Collins left Lodz with his only regret that his stunning solo goal could not secure a Nations League win against Ukraine.

The Burnley centre-half scythed his way through the Ukrainian defence, evading three challenges before stabbing home with the outside of his right foot to give Ireland a first-half lead which was cancelled out by Artem Dovbyk after the restart.

Asked about his remarkable strike afterwards, Collins told RTÉ: “If it was the last minute, it would be great because we could have got the win.

Ukraine v Republic of Ireland – UEFA Nations League – Group 1 – Stadion Miejski im Wladyslawa Krola
Nathan Collins earned his side a point against Ukraine but would have preferred a win. Photo: Rafal Oleksiewicz/PA

“But I’d have taken a draw. They’re a good team and we know where we are as a team as well.”

Encouraged to talk about the mazy run which took him past Oleksandr Zinchenko, Serhiy Sydorchuk and Illia Zabarnyi, Collins added: “I haven’t watched it back yet. I need time to watch it back, to have a look at it.

“I just took it in the moment, I took it in my stride and I saw what was open and I took it.”

Ireland boss Stephen Kenny was thrilled with Collins’ contribution not only in Poland, but in all four games during the window.

Speaking at his post-match press conference, Kenny said: “Nathan has established himself, he’s caught the imagination. The four games he’s played, he’s been really exceptional in all four games. His decision-making for one so young is excellent and obviously he’s got a lot of very good attributes and you feel that he’s improving all the time.

“It was a special goal to score away from home, a very special goal and he deserves huge credit for that.”

Opposite number Oleksandr Petrakov was less impressed, although preferred to keep his own counsel.

Petrakov said: “Of course I was really upset because a central defender scored the goal. I never give my opinion after the game, I have to sleep on it, think about it and the next day, I will tell my team what I think about it.”

Ukraine top League B Group 1 with seven points, while Ireland sit in third place having taken four of the last six points available after losing their opening two fixtures.

Kenny said: “I’d have preferred a higher points total. If we’d have won today… I definitely would have.

“But I thought it was very harsh to lose the opening two games, to be honest. To have no points from that was very difficult to take because we hardly conceded a chance in either game.

“Today was a good platform to go and play and we played well – but I want us to be even better than that, I want us to improve again. I think we’re capable of even getting better and the capacity there for improvement is high. I think we can even get better.

“I can’t fault the players, they were really excellent. Their attitude was brilliant and I can’t really fault the players, they were tremendous.”

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