Ukraine's Wily Andrei Shevchenko gives England cause to worry after scoring twice against Sweden
Ukraine 2 Sweden 1
Tuesday 12 June 2012
Roy Hodgson will know that he faces a tough challenge in his remaining Group D games. Hours after his England side resisted France's stifling midfield grip, Ukraine came from behind to beat Sweden in a breezy, open game in Kiev, with all three goals from two masterful strikers England have yet to face.
While John Terry and Joleon Lescott did well to shackle Karim Benzema, the hard work is far from done. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was menacing, drifting cleverly and putting Sweden ahead early in the second half.
Andrei Shevchenko, though, was brilliant. He is not as quick as he was but his movement remains exceptional. Twice within six second-half minutes he lost his marker and headed past Andreas Isaksson, as Ukraine swiftly turned a deficit into a lead. The co-hosts are now leading Group D and any hopes England might have had of a non-contested third game with Ukraine in Donetsk have now vanished.
"Every game is like a final for us," said Shevchenko, who was substituted to a standing ovation in the Olympic Stadium. "We showed our character and now have good chances to qualify from the group." England beware.
From the outset, Oleg Blokhin's team attacked bravely and in numbers, roared on by the partisan home crowd.
At first there was a lack of cohesion, although Sweden did not make it as difficult for them as they could have done. After 23 minutes they created their first good chance. Serhiy Nazarenko played the ball across to Shevchenko, who had moved into space on the right side, but the 35-year-old captain hooked wide.
Isaksson then had to jump to save Andrei Voronin's long-range effort and Yevhen Konoplianka, impressive all evening, curled a shot just wide before Shevchenko and Andrei Yarmolenko had shots blocked.
When Sweden attacked they were slower but, in Ibrahimovic, have a man who can create chances from nowhere, and will do so against England if allowed to. He threatened throughout the first half, coming closest when he headed Sebastian Larsson's cross against the post six minutes before the break.
After such an open first period it was no surprise when the deadlock was broken soon after the interval. And it was Ibrahimovic, Shevchenko, who did it, neatly finishing Kim Kallstrom's low cross at the near post.
This could have silenced the Olympic Stadium, and stifled Ukraine's attacks, but it did not. Just two minutes after they fell behind, Yarmolenko whipped in a cross from the right. Shevchenko, his predatory instinct still sharp, dipped in front of Olof Mellberg to head home.
Those home celebrations were loud enough, but were nothing compared with what was heard six minutes later. Another sharp darting run freed Shevchenko at the near post to head Konoplianka's corner past Isaksson, giving Ukraine the lead.
Ibrahimovic was not finished, however. His furious shot from the edge of the box with 14 minutes left was just kept out by Andrei Pyatov, while Johan Elmander and Mellberg both spurned late chances over the crossbar.
Scorers. Ukraine: Shevchenko 55, 61 Sweden: Ibrahimovic 52
Substitutes: Ukraine Milevskiy (Shevchenko, 82), Rotan (Voronin, 85), Devic (Konoplyanka, 90).
Sweden Svensson (Toivonen, 63), Wilhelmsson (Larsson, 68), Elmander (Rosenberg, 71).
Booked: Ukraine none. Sweden Elm, Kallstrom.
Man of the match Shevchenko. Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Ukraine 55% Sweden 45%.
Attempts on target: Ukraine 3 Sweden 4.
Referee C Cakir (Turkey). Attendance 68,000.
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