Ukraine 2-1 Sweden

Game in a sentence

A game fit for a storybook breaks out in Kiev as Ukraine’s greatest sporting hero scores two goals in their opening match to become the first team to three points in group D.

Observations

  • Some said they were unfit hosts. There was talk of racism, poverty and prostitution, but thankfully those stories can be brushed aside for a story of great triumph and victory for this passionate country on a wonderful night in Kiev.
  • Monday June 11th 2012 against Sweden became ‘a where were you when moment’ for the co-hosts after their footballing national treasure rolled back the years to score a brace and secure Ukraine’s first win at the European Championships in their first attempt.
  • The first half was relatively uneventful but, much like co-hosts Poland, the home side certainly showed very little nerves competing at a high tempo and really dominating the play against a surprisingly reserved, defensive-minded Sweden.
  • Ukraine are a side that like to attack with pace on the counter, switch the ball to the flanks very quickly with cross field balls and ask wide men Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko to do the rest. The former delivered but the latter was quite disappointing.
  • The same can be said for the entire Sweden side, bar Zlatan Ibrahimovic who was a class above the rest in blue. The AC Milan man was far too often isolated in Erik Hamren’s system and was often forced to hold the ball up and wait an entirety for help. He did let his side down in the first half, however, when he got away at the back post and headed the ball on to the post when he should have scored.
  • Seven minutes after the interval he put that miss to rest when Sweden worked both flanks well, confused Ukraine’s defence, and went ahead when Kim Kallstrom crossed for Ibra to score easily.
  • Ukraine were stunned and took a couple of minutes to really wake up from going a goal down, and almost went two down, but suddenly found the perfect potion for their troubles in the name of Andriy Shevchenko. Who else? The 2004 Ballon D’or winner made a brave run in the box and met the ball with a fierce header that levelled the scores. It was a wonderful moment for the 35-year-old who has had his eye on this game and this tournament ever since it was awarded to his country five years ago.
  • Not content with his 47th international goal and his marvellous moment, the Ukrainian legend headed home a second seven minutes later when he beat Ibrahimovic to the near post at a corner and put his side ahead for the first time. The national stadium in Ukraine, who had hoped for one last Sheva moment, erupted for joy as they got to celebrate with him for a second time.
  • A third came with ten minutes remaining when Shevchenko, who had given everything for his country, was withdrawn to a standing ovation. Three fantastic moments that will stay with him and the Ukrainian people for a very long time. They will remember his goals but he was more than just a goalscorer on this evening. Despite his age, he still very much has a fantastic football brain, whose movement confused Sweden and ensured his country got a moment they could only have dreamed about. Absolutely wonderful.

Three Stars

  1. Andriy Shevchenko
  2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  3. Yevhen Konoplyanka

Match Stats

  • Ukraine are the first country at Euro 2012 to come from behind and win.
  • Ukraine are the first host to win their opening match since Holland and Belgium both won in 2000. Belgium beat Sweden 2-1 on that occasion.
  • Andri Shevchenko (35-256) became the second oldest goalscorer in the European Championships. Only Ivica Vastic (Austria, 38-257) was older when he netted against Poland at Euro 2008.
  • Shevchenko is the 12th player to score at least twice in a ECh match and a WC match: David Villa, Drazan Jerkovic, Gerd Müller, Henrik Larsson, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Jürgen Klinsmann, Lukas Podolski, Rudi Völler, Thierry Henry, Valentin Ivanov, Zinédine Zidane.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the 5th player to score at three ECh editions after Jürgen Klinsmann, Vladimir Šmicer, Thierry Henry and Nuno Gomes.
  • Olof Mellberg became only the sixth player to make an appearance in four editions of the European Championships. Players that already have achieved this feat were Lothar Matthäus, Peter Schmeichel, Alessandro Del Piero, Edwin van der Sar and Lilian Thuram.

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Kristian Jack