Sheva: Ukraine's glimmer of hope

A goal down to Sweden in their first European Championship match after a depressing build-up to the tournament, Ukraine needed a miracle to turn their fortunes around. Their greatest footballing hero duly provided it.

With over 70,000 fans bathing Kiev's biggest footballing cathedral in a sea of yellow, Andriy Shevchenko's two goals gave Ukraine a precious 2-1 victory and a glimpse of the promised land.
There were plenty of doubters along the way and the 35-year-old was not even certain of a place in Oleg Blokhin's squad, let alone the chance to start in front of his adoring fans. A student of coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi at Dynamo Kiev, his exploits together with fellow striker Serhiy Rebrov wrote the city's name large in the Champions League era and won him a dream move to AC Milan.

In Italy he became one of the most feared strikers in Europe but a move to Chelsea did not work out well and a return to Milan on loan which did not yield a league goal saw his reputation fall further.
With the European Championships on home soil looming, Shevchenko went back to Kiev and the club where he made his name, desperately seeking the form and fitness that would give him one last stage to perform on.

Despite knee and back problems, he did just about enough to win the confidence of coach Blokhin, himself a former Dynamo Kiev great, and that stage was set for one last drama. But an hour before kickoff, few could have expected what was to come.

Picked to start, he went to inspect the pitch and pockets of Ukrainian fans chanted his name.
“If I dreamed one last night, I couldn't have dreamed a better one than tonight,” Shevchenko told a news conference.

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