Ukraine began UEFA EURO 2012 in dream fashion with a 2-1 comeback defeat of Sweden in Kyiv to take the early lead in Group D. After five years of waiting since being awarded the finals, not to mention three extra days as the last team to start, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Andriy Voronin’s delight, and relief, were clear.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Ukraine midfielder
I’m experiencing many emotions right now. We had very vocal, crucial support from our fans. We always wanted to win. We created many chances, went behind, then came back and showed our character. In the latter stages we did our best not to concede. The most important thing today was that we stood up as a team. There were not only 11 players on the pitch. All the players, the staff and the stadium were with us. That’s why we won today – we were one family.
These emotions are so unique. They are similar to the ones at the World Cup [in 2006], but now at a European Championship. The difference is that we are playing at home; you go through new experiences when so many home fans come and watch – our supporters wearing blue and yellow – and we felt this support today. We fought for these important three points. We were anxious to get them. The match was very tough so above all we should be satisfied with the result.
Every player who played felt the support of the fans, the responsibility. It was not easy for the coach to pick the starting XI [and] you should take our win as a team win. Of course, the experience of such players as Andriy [Shevchenko], or me, or Voronin is very important in such high-level matches.
Andriy Voronin, Ukraine forward
We feel very good right now. We won the first home match, a match we have been waiting so long for, since we were playing in the last group [to start]. We had to win for our supporters. We played a pretty good match. I don’t think anyone at the stadium doubted that we were going to score, as we basically dominated the game, except for the final minutes, when it was all about nerves and Sweden tried to press us and salvage something. But in the end we had a great game, and we deserved the victory. [Sweden’s] goal just gave us another reason to go on and win the game.
[Coach Oleh] Blokhin said that in the team there are veterans and young prospects, and they have to work together to progress. There are players, like me, whose experience in the national team is almost over, but we’re not thinking about it right now. We just see ourselves as a team, with younger and older players, and together we have to try to qualify. To us the most important thing is the team result, and tonight we did well.