Shevchenko kicks off Ukraine party
Ukraine's Euro 2012 party started in style when they sealed a thrilling 2-1 comeback win over Sweden as Andriy Shevchenko struck twice to complete a perfect evening for the co-hosts in Group D on Monday.
The 35-year-old Shevchenko powered in two headers, cancelling out Zlatan Ibrahimovic's opening goal and reminding everyone of his sheer class, grit and determination.
Shevchenko left the pitch to a standing ovation after being substituted and the final whistle triggered wild celebrations in the stands before "Sheva" embraced coach Oleg Blokhin and ran towards the crowd with his arms raised in celebration.
Ukraine's first win in a European championship match also resounded in Lviv with thousands of happy fans walking through the streets chanting 'Ukraine' and 'Sheva, Sheva'.
Image: Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko celebrates after winning their Group D Euro 2012 soccer match against Sweden at the Olympic stadium in Kiev
Photographs: REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Thousands of fans headed towards Independence square
In Kiev, car horns were honking around the Olympic stadium as thousands of fans headed towards the fan zone next to Independence square.
The win was not only down to Shevchenko as Ukraine played neat football in the first half and Sweden looked nothing like the team who had scored 31 goals in their qualifying campaign.
"Go Ukraine!" was played at a deafening volume to the sound of old school techno music before kickoff in a friendly and festive atmosphere with the fans appearing as one wearing yellow shirts, either Swedish or Ukrainian.
With UEFA president Michel Platini among the crowd, none of the racism fears that have clouded the build-up to the tournament materialised as the game was played in a loud but peaceful Olympic stadium.
Image: Ukraine's fans celebrate during their Group D Euro 2012 soccer match against Sweden at the Olympic stadium in Kiev
Photographs: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
'We have good chances to qualify from the group'
Ukraine, who had lost their last two warm-up games, sit proudly on top of Group D after France and England shared the points in a 1-1 draw in Donetsk.
"We have good chances to qualify from the group," said man-of-the-match Shevchenko.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren added: "For us to win these games, we need 11 players on top, together. Today maybe five or six showed the quality that I want. That is not enough."
Blokhin's team were focused throughout, showing composure at the back and nice movements in the midfield before playing their hearts out to preserve their advantage.
An hour after the final whistle, a few fans were still looking at the giant screens in the stadium showing countless replays of Shevchenko's double.
Image: Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko (L) scores his second goal against Sweden during their Group D Euro 2012 soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Kiev
Photographs: REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Sweden seemed to rely heavily on Ibrahimovic
Sweden, instead, seemed to rely heavily on Ibrahimovic and appeared short of ideas, especially in a dull first half.
The tall striker and his team stepped up a gear after the break but sloppy defending on set pieces and a lack of sharpness up front proved too much to overcome against Ukraine, who became the first side to come from behind and win at Euro 2012.
They next face France in Donetsk as a team who now have a good chance of advancing to the quarter-finals, especially since Les Bleus failed to sparkle against England.
Sweden, who sat back too much after Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with a classy close-range finish seven minutes into the second half, must improve against England in Donetsk on Friday.
Sweden, which has been sharply critical of the prosecution and jailing of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, did not send a government minister to the game as some Western countries continue to boycott Ukraine over its democracy and human rights record.
Image: Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts after losing their Group D Euro 2012 soccer match against Ukraine at the Olympic stadium in Kiev
Photographs: REUTERS/Eddie Keogh