KYIV: Ukraine showed Poland how to make the most of home advantage when the co-hosts of Euro 2012 stormed back from a goal down to beat Sweden 2-1 and thus guarantee a thrill-a-minute progression all the way to the final whistles of the eventual last games in Group D.
Whereas co-hosts Poland started on fire against Greece last Friday then fizzled out for a draw the Ukrainians exploded to victory on the provocation of a Swedish goal early in the second half.
Ex-Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko headed both their goals to out-score his Milan successor, Zlatan Ibrahomovic, who had put the Swedes ahead in the 52nd minute. Shevchenko, selected out of sympathy to hear many Ukraine fans before the game, reacted by heading both his goals. Not bad for the smallest man of the pitch in the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv.
Sweden must win their next outing, against England back in Kyiv on Friday, to maintain hope of reaching the last eight. Similarly Ukraine would be advised not to under-estimate a French team depressed at having been held 1-1 by England in Donetsk.
Ukraine, expected to play positive attacking football by their own fans, will offer the French much more space in which to create the gaps which Karim Benzema can exploit. England, by contrast, kept it so tight at the back they squeezed the life out of Laurent Blanc’s men.
In the circumstances the draw was a better result for England than for France. But Ukraine – and Shevchenko – were the night’s big winners in more ways than one.
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