WATCH: Football fans in hysterics at ‘most cynical foul in history’ as Ukraine player takes out rival in women’s Euro qualifier
The hosts won 2-0 on the night in Belfast to pick up a 4-1 aggregate victory in their playoff, sealing a spot at the tournament finals in England.
Northern Ireland’s second goal came deep into injury time with Ukraine already down to 10 players after a straight red card for the hot-headed Natiya Pantsulaya.
As Sarah Caldwell raced through on goal in the 87th minute, Pantsulaya dispensed with any attempt to reach the ball first, instead veering wildly off course to barge into her rival as both were sent tumbling to the ground.
Pantsulaya knew what was coming as she began to trudge off the pitch before the referee had even brandished a red card, in an incident which soon went viral.
Great achievement by the Northern Ireland women. The Ukraine defender here must have had a few quid on a red card. Mental decision making... . pic.twitter.com/X2aeQi6EZT— Pat L (@Funxyzeit) April 13, 2021
“The Northern Ireland vs Ukraine match contained one of the most cynical fouls I have ever seen. It is almost a work of performance art,” wrote Twitter user Scott Pack, sharing the clip.
“That is beautiful/horrendous,” joked one fan, while another added: “She was nearer the ball than the player initially – madness!”
“If she had just ran to the ball she could have cleared it,” joked another incredulous observer.
That is beautiful/horrendous— Paisley Sparks (@paisleysparks44) April 13, 2021
She was nearer the ball than the player initially - madness!— Kenny Beaton (@coinneachpeutan) April 13, 2021
One fan wrote: “I’ve now watched it 8 million times and it become more ridiculous with each watch. The ‘defender’ / assaulter practically has the ball. She actually has to go out of her way to foul the NI player. It’s batsh*t crazy.”
“For context, Ukraine were about to loser a Euro play-off and I wonder if she just wanted to vent her frustration. The goalie looks furious,” Pack replied speculatively.
I’ve now watched it 8 million times and it become more ridiculous with each watch. The ‘defender’/assaulter practically has the ball. She actually has to go out of her way to foul the NI player. It’s batshit crazy.— Paisley Sparks (@paisleysparks44) April 13, 2021
Northern Ireland claimed a place in the finals in England thanks to a 56th-minute strike from Marissa Callaghan and a finish from late substitute Nadene Caldwell.
Elsewhere, Russia’s women booked their spot among the 16 teams at Euro 2022 with a 0-0 draw against Portugal in Moscow, which saw them through 1-0 on aggregate.