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Euro 2012: Group D - Shevchenko marvelous in Ukraine's victory, England and France play to a draw
Many felt the match of the day at Euro 2012, would be the battle between England and France and while the opening match was well played and saw the two sides play to a 1-1 draw. The night belonged to the Ukraine and their veteran striker Andriy Shevchenko. After falling behind early in the second half, Shevchenko brought his team all the way back, with a pair of goals, leading the Ukraine to the 2-1 win over Sweden.
Edmonton - June 11, 2012 - Many felt the match of the day at Euro 2012, would be the battle between perennial powerhouses England and France. While the opening match was well played and saw the two sides play to a 1-1 draw, the night belonged to the Ukraine and their veteran striker Andriy Shevchenko. After falling behind early in the second half, Shevchenko brought his team all the way back, with a pair of goals, leading the Ukraine to the 2-1 win over Sweden.
England would strike first in their match against France, courtesy of a well timed header from hulking defender Joleon Lescott and an absolutely gorgeous free kick cross off the boot of captain Steven Gerrard. The French had controlled the run of play during the opening thirty but the English found themselves in the lead...though it would be a lead that would not last long.
Despite conceding the opening goal, France continued to press and were finally rewarded. Nine minutes after falling behind on Lescott's marker, his Manchester City teammate Samir Nasri would get the French back on level terms. After taking a quick pass from Franck Ribery, Nasri would take a touch before unleashing a laser from just outside the England box, curling it past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper John Hart, another Manchester City teammate, and into the back of the net. It was an outstanding effort from the little Frenchman, that has given him the early lead for goal of the tournament.
That left the game level at the half and neither side produced much in the way of quality chances the rest of the way. England continued to play the stifling defensive system that was expected with star striker Wayne Rooney out of the starting lineup due to suspension. While France looked good on the attack and had 65% of the possession, they did not do much with it. Unlike the English, who had one shot and goal for the entire match and made it count.
Game two featured the co-hosts from the Ukraine taking on Sweden, in the final match of the first round of games in the group stages. In what was easily the worst opening thirty minutes of any game, the match finally came to life in the final quarter of an hour, with each side's star forward having opportunities to break the deadlock. Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit the upright with a header just past the thirty minute mark, while Andriy Shevchenko sent an shot just wide of the Swedish goal from just outside the six yard box, leaving the sides scoreless at half-time.
While the first half wasn't the most enthralling soccer to watch, the second forty-five was theatre at its finest. After Ibrahimovic quickly put the Scandinavian side up at the seven minute mark, things were not looking good for the home side. Enter Shevchenko and his ability to score big goals whenever his team needs it most.
While the longtime face of Ukraine soccer came into Euro 2012 with the end of his playing career on the horizon the thirty-five year old marksman still had some magic left for the soccer world. Three minutes after Sweden took the lead Shevchenko scored his first of the night, putting a brilliant diving header past a helpless Andreas Isaksson to make it 1-1.
Seven minutes later, the old man would do it again, heading in his second of night and sending the Ukraine supporters into hysterics. Shevchenko managed to free himself from Ibrahimovic just long enough to flick a neat little header just inside the near post, giving the Ukraine the first lead of the game and creating the first magic moment of these European Championships.
Group D – Results and Schedule
06/11/12 – France 1 England 1
06/11/12 – Ukraine 2 Sweden 1
06/15/12 – Sweden vs England
06/15/12 – Ukraine vs France
06/19/12 – Ukraine vs England
06/19/12 - Sweden vs France
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