Related Betting Tips
Euro 2012 - Group D Matchday 1 Recap

Shevchenko rolls back the years to give Ukraine vital win in Group D

Written by Christopher Kisby

Group D

After France and England’s draw earlier in the day in Donetsk, three points in Kiev became even more priceless on Monday night as Ukraine squared off with Sweden and it was the co-hosts who took full advantage courtesy of a tremendous double strike from veteran hitman Andriy Shevchenko.

The 35-year-old former Chelsea and AC Milan forward is something of a legend in his home nation and he enhanced that status even further in the Olympic Stadium to take his tally of international goals to 48, fully justifying Oleg Blokhin’s controversial selection policy in the process.

But it was Sweden who hit the front early in the second half after a largely dull opening 45 minutes which was devoid of any real goal mouth action.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has for a long time been Sweden’s main man in attack and he bagged what looked to be a crucial goal for the Swedes on 52 minutes.

The pressure was heaped onto the co-hosts, but it didn’t take them long to respond as Shevchenko levelled matters just three minutes later, before netting the winner just after the hour mark.

Ibrahimovic went close for Sweden late in the day after rasping a volley on target but Ukraine held on to record a famous victory and one which puts them in good contention to reach the knockout phase of their home tournament.

Bigger challenges naturally lie ahead for Blokhin’s side who will now take on Laurent Blanc’s France on Friday.

Les Bleus showed glimpses of brilliance against England in Donetsk however they could not force a vital winner which would have put Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions well and truly on the back foot heading into match day two.

Aside from the goal they conceded to Man City star Samir Nasri, England defended very well against the French and their deep tactics will undoubtedly make them a tough proposition for Sweden who will feel that they have to win to stand any chance of progressing to the last eight.

After match day one, things still look all to play for and Ukraine may feel that a draw against France and England will be enough to seal their place in the quarter-finals.

A win for Sweden last night would have undoubtedly increased the heat on England ahead of their clash in Kiev on Friday but in truth the Scandinavians should pose little threat to the Three Lions who should land the odds in efficient if not emphatic style.

France will be seeking to bank their first success of the championship but could find life a little difficult against a confident Ukraine who will be a tough nut to crack in their own back yard.

Titan Bet has the match betting for the remainder of the Group D fixtures and it will indeed be fascinating to see who can forge a path to the last eight over the coming days in Eastern Europe.