Ukraine captain and talisman Andriy Shevchenko unsurprisingly found himself at the top of the Castrol EDGE Index for his role in the hosts’ 2-1 win against Sweden in their UEFA EURO 2012 Group D opener.
There could have been no more fitting venue than the Olympic Stadium, home of Shevchenko’s first – and current – club FC Dynamo Kyiv, for the Ukrainian football icon to make his mark on the UEFA European Championship. The stage was set as tens of thousands of hopeful home fans flocked to see their hero lead the tournament debutants to victory, and Shevchenko duly stole the show.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic strayed from the script with his 52nd-minute goal, but three minutes later Shevchenko wiped out the deficit, darting in front of his marker to meet Andriy Yarmolenko’s clipped cross with an emphatic header. If that was cause for jubilation, the stadium erupted when Shevchenko repeated the feat just seven minutes later, flashing in a header at the near post from a corner.
The goals crowned an impressive display in which his shooting, attacking movement, work rate and short passing were all top notch, earning him a 9.7 rating – the highest of the tournament so far. On any other day the second-placed Ibrahimovic’s score of 9.57 for a terrific centre-forward showing would have put him top, while Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov completed the front three, his four saves earning him an 8.49 rating.
Castrol Edge Index: Ukraine v Sweden
1. Andriy Shevchenko (UKR) 9.7
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWE) 9.57
3. Andriy Pyatov (UKR) 8.49
4. Olof Mellberg (SWE) 8.10
5. Yevgen Khacheridi (UKR) 8.02
4 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now scored in four successive matches for Sweden.
2004 – The year that Andriy Shevchenko last scored two goals in a competitive game for Ukraine, against Turkey.
2 – Sweden have now lost both of their EURO finals matches against host nations by a 2-1 scoreline, following their defeat to Belgium in 2000.
16 – the number of years (plus 42 days) that separate Andriy Shevchenko’s first and last goals for Ukraine.
8 – Eight of the 20 goals scored at UEFA EURO 2012 have been headers.
Andriy Shevchenko (UKR): I feel ten years younger tonight. The guys pulled it together today and played a wonderful game. They showed such character, and some brilliant combinations. We now have a good chance of getting to the next round.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWE): We shouldn’t have lost, we had good chances to score. Still, two great matches lie ahead of us. We must learn not to throw away a lead in the manner we did and to be a bit more daring. It isn’t just about one game.